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917 ? B73o 
I3ou-/las _ a 

or men and mountains 

... Of Men and Mountains 


- SI 



Of Men aid 



New York 


Copyright, 1950, by William O. Douglas 
Printed in the United States of America 

All rights in this book are reserved. 
No part of the book may be reproduced in any 
manner whatsoever without written permission 
except in the case of brief quotations embodied 
in critical articles and reviews. For information 
address Harper & Brothers 

Acknowledgment for permission to reprint the following selections is 

made to: 

Miss ELEANOR ATTETTA CHAFFEE for "Who but a boy would wander 

into the night/ first published in Lantern. 
HEKRY HOLT & COMPANY, INC. for "Bravado" from Steeple Bush by 

Robert Frost. Copyright, 1947, by Henry Holt & Company, Inc.; 

and for "Hog Butcher for the World" from Chicago Poems by 

Carl Sandburg. Copyright, 1916, by Henry Holt & Company, Inc. 

Copyright, 1943, by Carl Sandburg. 
ALFRED A. KNOPF, INC. for The Farthest Reach by Nancy Wilson 

Ross. Copyright, 1941, by Nancy Wilson Ross. 
The Oregonian for "Be gentle when you touch bread," Anonymous. 

To the memory of -my /atkr 


Home Missionary of the Presfyterian Church 


Foreword ix 

I. The Cascades i 

II. Yakima 19 

III. Infantile Paralysis 30 

IV. Sagebrush and Lava Rock 36 
V. Ahtanum 51 

VI. Indian Flat 25 Miles 63 

VII. Naches 40 Miles 85 

VIII. Deep Water 100 

IX. Fear Walks the Woods 109 

X. The Campfire 124 

XI. Indian Philosopher 132 

XII. Sheepherders 144 

XIII. Trout 162 

XIV. Fly vs. Bait 168 
XV. A Full Heart 186 

XVI. Goat Rocks 199 

XVII. Jack Nelson 213 

XVIII. Roy Schaeffer 230 

XIX. Food 255 

XX. Snow Hole 274 

XXI. Klickitat 292 

XXII. Kloochman 314 

Glossary 330 


THE mountains of the Pacific Northwest are tangled, wild, remote, 
and high. They have the roar of torrents and avalanches in their 

Rock cliffs such as Kloochman rise as straight in the air as the 
Washington Monument and two or three times as high. Snow-capped 
peaks with aprons of eternal glaciers command the skyline giant 
sentinels 11,000, 12,000, 14,000 feet high, such as Hood, Adams, 
and Rainier. 

There are no slow-moving, sluggish rivers in these mountains. The 
streams run clear, cold, and fast. 

There are remote valleys and canyons where man has never been. 
The meadows and lakes are not placid, idyllic spots. The sternness 
of the mountains has been imparted to them. 

There are cougar to scout the camp at night. Deer and elk bed 
down in stands of mountain ash, snowbrush, and mountain-mahog 
any. Bears patrol streams looking for salmon. Mountain goat work 
their way along cliffs at dizzy heights, searching for moss and 

Trails may climb 4,000 feet or more in two miles. In twenty miles 
of travel one may gain, then lose, then gain and lose once more, 
several thousand feet of elevation. 

The blights of forest fires, overgrazing, avalanches, and excessive 
lumbering have touched parts of this vast domain. But civilization 
has left the total scene in strange degree alone. 

These tangled masses of thickets, ridges, cliffs, and peaks are a vast 
wilderness area. Here man can find deep solitude, and under condi 
tions of grandeur that are startling he can come to know both himself 
and God. 

This book is about such discoveries. In this case they are discov 
eries that I made; so in a limited sense the book is autobiographical. 


I learned early that the richness of life is found in adventure. Ad 
venture calls on all the faculties of mind and spirit. It develops self- 
reliance and independence. Life then teems with excitement. But 
man is not ready for adventure unless he is rid of fear. For fear con 
fines him and limits his scope. He stays tethered by strings of doubt 
and indecision and has only a small and narrow world to explore. 

This book may help others to use the mountains to prepare for 

They if they are among the uninitiated may be inspired to 
search out the high alpine basins and fragile flowers that flourish 
there. They may come to know the exhilaration of wind blowing 
through them on rocky pinnacles. They may recognize the music of 
the conifers when it comes both in whispered melodies and in the 
fullness of the wind instruments. They may discover the glory of a 
blade of grass and find their own relationship to the universe in the 
song of the willow thrush at dusk. They may learn to worship God 
where pointed spires of balsam fir turn a mountain meadow into a 

Discovery is adventure. There is an eagerness, touched at times 
with tenseness, as man moves ahead into the unknown. Walking the 
wilderness is indeed like living. The horizon drops away, bringing new 
sights, sounds, and smells from the earth. When one moves through 
the forests, his sense of discovery is quickened. Man is back in the 
environment from which he emerged to build factories, churches, and 
schools. He is primitive again, matching his wits against the earth 
and sky. He is free of the restraints of society and free of its safeguards 

Boys, perhaps more deeply than men, know this experience. 
Eleanor Chaff ee has expressed that concept poignantly: 

Who but a boy would wander into the night 
Against the sensible advice of those much older, 
Where silent shadows cut the moon s thin light 
And only maples lean to touch his shoulder? 
What does he hope to find, what fever stirs 
His blood and guides his feet to walk alone? 


He will return, his sweater stuck with burrs 
And in his hand a useless, shapeless stone, 
But something in his face, secret, withdrawn 
Will go with him upstairs, and to his sleep. 
He is as furtive now as a young wild fawn: 
His eyes are darker now, and large and deep. 
Who but a boy can find such subtle magic 
In the world his elders find so grave, so tragic? 

These pages contain what I, as a boy, saw, felt, smelled, tasted, and 
heard in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. At least the record 
I have written is as accurate as memory permits. Those who walked 
the trails with me as a boy Bradley Emery, Douglas Corpron, Elon 
Gilbert, Arthur F. Douglas are happily all alive. So they have let 
me draw upon their memories too and make many demands on their 
time and energies in the preparation of these chronicles. 

The boy makes a deep imprint on the man. My young experiences 
in the high Cascades have placed the heavy mark of the mountains 
on me. And so the excitement that alpine meadows and high peaks 
created in me comes flooding back to make each adult trip an adven 
ture. As the years have passed I have found in these experiences a 
spiritual significance that I could not fully sense before. That is why 
the book, though about a boy, is in total effect an adult version. 

Many have assisted me in this task. It was the quiet encouragement 
of Phil Parrish and Stanley and Nancy Young that led me to finish 
the book. And it was the hard-edged mind of Phil Parrish that helped 
me put the text in final form. Many others have given me aid along 
the way. Lyle F. Watts, Walt Dutton, Lloyd Swift, H. }. Andrews, 
Fred Kennedy, Joseph F. Pechanec, Glenn Mitchell, Charles Rector, 
Chester Bennett, and Wade Hall of the Forest Service; Stanley 
Jewett, Elmo Adams, and John Scharff of the Fish and Wild Life 
Service; Ira Gabrielson, formerly chief of that service these men 
have ridden the trails with me and helped me see and understand 
the beauties of the mountains. They also assisted me in analyzing 
a mass of scientific material bearing on the conservation of wildlife 
and water and topsoil that my mountain expeditions produced. That 
material was originally intended for this book; but in view of its 


nature and volume it has been saved for later publication. William 
A. Dayton, Donald C. Peattie, and Melvin Burke have been my pa 
tient instructors in botany. None could ask for better ones. Dean 
Guie of Yakima, Palmer Hoyt of Denver, Saul Haas of Seattle, Rich 
ard L. Neuberger of Portland, Robert W. Sawyer of Bend, Alba Show- 
away of Parker, Mrs. George W. McCredy of Bickleton, John P. 
Buwalda of Pasadena, and all those who walk through these pages, 
particularly Jack Nelson, Roy Schaeffer, and the late Clarence Truitt 
granted me assistance along the way. Walt Dutton, Josephine Wag- 
gaman, James Powell, and Rudolph A. Wendelin produced the maps 
that appear as end papers in this volume. Edith Allen and Gladys 
Giese carried the burden of the typing. 

I must add a special word about two of the characters. Elon Gilbert 
almost gave his life for the book. When field studies were being 
made in 1948, he was in a truck loaded with horses that rolled into 
a canyon on the eastern slopes of Darling Mountain. It was he who 
scaled the cliffs on Goat Rocks to drop a rope to me that I might 
climb in safety. He also carried much of the burden of the field 
research that went into this work. We shared together, as boys and 
men, the adventure of this story. 

Doug Corpron was one of the doctors who attended me after the 
horseback accident in October, 1949 that almost proved fatal. During 
the first few days in the hospital it seemed that whenever I opened 
my eyes night or day Doug was by my bedside. Then one day he 
stood over me with a grin on his face. There was a note of bravado 
in his voice as he said, That was another tough climb we had to 
gether. But we made it, just as we once conquered Kloochman." 

That was a freakish accident in which Elon Gilbert and Billy 
McGuffie were also involved. 

Billy McGuffie was at Tipsoo Lake on the morning of October 2, 
1949, as Elon Gilbert and I started on horseback up Crystal Moun 
tain on the expedition that almost proved fatal to me. He hailed me > 
and I stopped briefly to talk with him before I took to the trail. 
Rainier stood naked in all its grandeur across from us. Billy was 
lighthearted as he pointed out all of the meadows and basins on its 


slopes where he had once herded sheep. How Billy happened to be 
at Tipsoo this morning I do not know. "Providence sent him/ 7 Jack 
Nelson whispered to me a few days later in a Yakima hospital. 

I had recently been into that country on skis and snowshoes when 
it was under thirty feet of snow. But there was much of it I had not 
seen in summer or fall for over thirty years. 

This would be the ideal day to see it. There was not a cloud as 
far as the eye could see. The Oregon grape had turned to a deep 
port, the huckleberry to blood red, the mountain ash to a rich cran 
berry. The willow, maple, and tamarack were golden splashes across 
dark slopes of evergreens and basalt. As we skirted a steep and rugged 
shoulder of rock, I sensed a quiet air of waiting. It was as if the 
mountain were gathering itself together for the winter s assault. 

Then the accident happened. I had ridden my horse Kendall hun 
dreds of miles in the mountains and found him trustworthy on any 
terrain. But this morning he almost refused, as Elon led the way up 
a steep 60 degree grade. Knowing my saddle was loose, I dismounted 
and tightened the cinch. Then I chose a more conservative path up 
the mountain. Keeping it on my left, I followed an old deer run that 
circled the hillside at an easy 10 degree grade. We had gone only a 
hundred yards or so when Kendall (for a reason which will never be 
known) reared and whirled, his front feet pawing the steep slope. I 
dismounted by slipping off his tail. I landed in shale rock, lost my 
footing and rolled some thirty yards. I ended on a narrow ledge lying 
on my stomach, uninjured. I started to rise. I glanced up. I looked 
into the face of an avalanche. Kendall had slipped, and fallen, too. 
He had come rolling down over the same thirty precipitous yards I 
had traversed. There was no possibility of escape. Kendall was right 
on me. I had only time to duck my head. The great horse hit me. 
Sixteen hundred pounds of solid horseflesh rolled me flat. I could hear 
my own bones break in a sickening crescendo. Then Kendall dropped 
over the ledge and rolled heavily down the mountain to end up with 
out a scratch. I lay paralyzed with pain twenty-three of twenty-four 
ribs broken. 

I could not move or shout. Would Elon ever find me in the brush 


where I lay concealed? He did in twenty minutes that seemed like 
a century. Then, marking the spot where I lay, he raced down the 
mountain to see if he could find help. Again it seemed an endless 
wait, but in less than an hour there were sounds of men thrashing 
through brush the rescue party that Billy McGuffie had organized. 
Soon there were strong arms lifting me gently onto a litter. Then a 
warm, rough hand slipped into mine, as I heard these whispered 
words: "This is Wullie McGuffie, my laddie; noo everything will be 
a richt." 

Tucson, Arizona, 
January, 16, 1950 

Chapter I TKe Cascades 

MOST lawsuits, when viewed from the bench, are fundamentally 
fascinating. But there are dull moments even for a judge. There are 
interludes when the advocate is fumbling among his papers or having 
a whispered consultation with his associate. There is the occasional 
lawyer who drones on with accumulating monotony. I particularly 
recall one such time when, for a few minutes, I left the courtroom. 

It was a day in late spring, when I stepped into the Big Klickitat. 

The water was high, so I pulled my waders snug to the armpits. 
They were stocking-foot waders. The shoes I wore had felt soles, fair 
footing for the black, lava rock bottom of the Klickitat. The chill 
of the water at once struck through waders and wool underwear. 

"I must keep moving/ I thought, "or I ll freeze." 

I waded to midstream. The water of the Klickitat was around my 
waist. The whole weight of the river rushed against me. While it was 
a friendly push, it warned me to be careful of my footing. I leaned 
against it slightly, felt firm gravel under my feet, and started the slow 
ascent of the stream. 

I was fishing a dry fly. I found some long floats with a May fly in 
the flat water below a spot of riffles. But I had no strike. I changed 
to a caddis bucktail and then to a coachman bucktail. Still no strike. 
I pushed on upstream. There on the left bank was a stretch of fast, 
flat water under overhanging branches of willow. The only way I 
could get a float beneath the willows was to cast across the stream at 
an angle. I crossed to the righthand bank, and was able to quarter it 
as I cast up to the base of the riffle. 

I opened a fly box to make a new selection. After a moment of 
indecision I chose a Hallock killer. My first cast reached the base of 
the riffle. The current carried the fly a foot from the bank and down 
it drifted sitting high on the water like some new hybrid form of 
caddis that had dropped from a willow tree. Down it came 10 feet, 


12 feet, 15 feet, 20 feet. There was a swirl under the fly. I lifted the 
tip of my rod to set the hook. My timing was poor. The fish turned 
over but I had not touched him. So he might come again. 

I waited a few minutes. Once more I quartered the river, casting 
upstream to the base of the riffle. Again the Hallock killer swung 
toward the bank and came drifting down under the willows. It had 
moved about as far as before, when the trout the same, I believe 
struck again. This time I had him. I knew he was a rainbow because 
he broke water at once. All told, he jumped eight times. He stood on 
his tail, shaking his head to get rid of the hook. He rushed toward 
me, leaving the water in a graceful arc, eager for slack line so as to 
shake the hook loose. Downstream we went until we came to a small 
pool. There I held him until, in a few minutes, I brought him gently 
to the net. He was sleek and fat 14 inches long and a pound and 
three-quarters in weight. 

I went back upstream and fished a few pools above the willow 
bank. I took one more trout a 1 2-inch rainbow. But that was the 
only strike I had in 30 minutes on the Hallock killer. 

"Time for a change," I thought, selecting a gray hackle, a No. 12 
with a yellow body and red wings. "Maybe that s what they want." 
I tied it on and continued upstream to a big pool I had seen. This 
was at least fifty feet long. It was filled with white water at its head. 
The lower part was calm, and at least six or eight feet deep. I puzzled 
over the best way to fish it. If I cast upstream to the base of the white 
water at the head of the pool, the line would stretch across the calm 
water and disturb the trout. So I decided the best spot for the first 
cast was the lower end. Here the water picked up speed as it rushed 
for the exit, which was between two logs lying close and forming a 
sort of sluice gate. I dropped my gray hackle 20 feet above the sluice 
gate of the pool. It had gone scarcely a foot when it was sucked under 
in a swirl. I set my hook and knew by the feel that I had the 

Just then I heard the marshal s gavel. I came to. The court was 
rising. It was 4:30 P.M. The argument was over and another session 
of court at an end. 


When I got to my chambers, I found my old friend Saul Haas 
waiting to see me. He had been in the courtroom during the latter 
part of the case. "Were you asleep in court this afternoon?" he 

I told him I had not been asleep; that when I became a judge I 
swore I would never doze on the bench, and my record so far was un 
sullied. Then I asked why he thought I had been sleeping, 

"Well/ 7 he said, "you were off gathering wool." 

I confessed I had been fishing. 

"Fishing?" he queried. "For trout?" 

I told him I had been after trout in the Big Klickitat of the Cas 
cade Mountains in eastern Washington. 

"Any luck?" he asked. I assured him I had had wonderful luck. 

"You know," he said, "I ll bet you had better luck fishing this after 
noon than you usually have." I inquired why. 

"Well," he said, "I ll tell you. The loveliest, most beautiful women 
are those we meet in our dreams. And I figure that fishing is the 

It was March, and there was only a touch of spring along the banks 
of the Potomac. The sun had not yet awakened the Japanese cherry 
trees. Neither the violets nor the dogwood had blossomed. The trees, 
though expectant, were still naked. Summer pressed harder each day. 
But winter hung on and kept its chill in the air. 

There were robins everywhere. A meadow lark sang from a field 
by the river. A cloud of redwings swept across the sky, headed down 
stream for marshlands. A heron flapped lazily along the Virginia side 
of the river. And I saw on the edge of the path the year s first lily of 
the valley. 

I stooped to pick it; and as I rose, I noticed a burst of yellow against 
a stand of dry and brittle weeds a hundred yards or so into the barren 
woods. After a long absence, the forsythia had returned overnight. 
The brilliance of its color against the drab shrubs and trees made it 
seem that the woods had been filled with the great rush of spring. 
The endless cycle persisted. There had been apparent atrophy and 


death. Now the floodtime of life was near. There would soon be a 
mysterious awakening of grass and trees. Melodious invaders from the 
Caribbean would drop from the sky. A reviving south wind would 
touch the land with wet wings. 

Since the previous fall, I had hardly had time to look for a cardinal 
in Rock Creek Park or for a flight of geese or redheads over the 
Potomac. Indeed, I had been in the woods only a few times all win 
ter. Like others in the nation s capital I had been caught fast in 
official and social duties. 

The events of the winter had made me wonder at times, "Whither 
man?" I recalled an evening s conversation with a group of young 
folks. They deplored the fact that man was being more and more re 
garded only as a biological -or economic being. He was put into tables 
and polls and considered as fungible as wheat or corn. One of them 
made the point that there was a diminishing recognition of the 
spiritual qualities of the importance of quickening man s conscience 
and asking him to search his soul as well as his mind for answers to 
the perplexing problems of the day. 

Perhaps man was losing his freedom in a subtle manner. He was 
becoming more and more dependent on other men. Part of that 
dependency was necessary, since man had to look to others for his 
food and fuel and essential services. But he had also become depend 
ent on others for his entertainment and for his ideas. He looked to 
people rather than to himself and to the earth for his salvation. He 
fixed his expectations on the frowns or smiles or words of men, not 
on the strength of his own soul, or the sunrise, or the warming south 
wind, or the song of the warbler. 

Once man leaned that heavily on people he was not wholly free to 
live. Then he became moody rather than self-reliant. He was filled 
with tensions and doubts. He walked in an unreal world, for he did 
not know the earth from which he came and to which he would 
return. He became a captive of civilization rather than an adven 
turer who topped each hill ahead for the thrill of discovering a new 
world. He lost the feel of his own strength, the power of his own 
soul to master any adversity. 


The forsythia and its brilliant color stirred in me the memory of 
this after-dinner conversation. As I stood there with those ideas 
swirling in my head, I felt refreshed. My heart was relieved. I was 
excited by the very thought of being alive. The golden gleam of 
forsythia in bleak woods had given me a new hold on freedom. 

I felt an almost irresistible urge to go West. It was the call of the 
Cascade Mountains. The sight of the forsythia this March day along 
the Potomac tripped the mechanism that flooded my mind with 
memories of the challenge of those mountains. The same has hap 
pened again and again in other circumstances. 

Packed tight in a New York City subway, I have closed my eyes 
and imagined I was walking the ridge high above Cougar Lake. That 
ridge has the majesty of a cathedral. The Pacific Crest Trail winds 
along it under great cliffs that suggest walls and spires yet unfinished. 
At points along the trail are meadows no bigger than a city lot, from 
whose edge the mountain drops off a thousand feet or more. Here 
one stands on a dais looking directly down on the tips of pine and 
hemlock. At other points there are small pockets or basins set like 
alcoves off the trail and lined with balsam (alpine) fir in colonnade 
effect. Sharp, jagged shafts of basalt rock often tower over these 
alcoves. And at various angles they give impressions of roughly hewn 
church steeples. 

When I am on that ridge at daybreak on an August or September 
day I feel like holding my breath so as not to break the solitude. The 
heartbeat sounds like a muffled drum. There is dew on the bunch- 
grass and the low-bush huckleberries. The air is crisp and cool. There 
is not a breath of wind. I find myself walking softly, almost on tiptoe, 
careful to avoid twigs and to keep my feet on the grass or the soft 
pine needles. For it pays to be noiseless when one moves along the 
ridge at that hour. It is the time of day when deer and elk are on the 

There is no one within miles. A squirrel sounds an alarm from 
the top of a western hemlock. A chipmunk scuttles across the trail 
and, before disappearing into his hole, peers around the trunk of a 


white fir. There is an impish way about him. This is the first man 
he has ever seen, and he is full of indecision whether or not to 
explore the possibilities of friendship. Then he is gone with a flick 
of his tail. Overhead a hawk circles round and round, catching some 
current of air that even the tips of the fir and hemlock and cedar 
do not feel, as it glides gracefully along the contours of the ridge. 

There is always a quick excitement, a tingling sensation up the 
spine, as I turn a bend in the trail and see a doe feeding. Her sensitive 
antennae detect my presence before I can inhale a breath. She turns 
her head to face me, her ears spread wide, her nostrils distended, her 
eyes fixed. In a split second her radar transforms the image into the 
symbol for an ancient enemy. She clears a patch of hellebore in a 
bound and disappears with nervous jumps into a stand of mountain 
ash. Within 50 or 100 feet even the white tail is blended in the 
woods and lost to sight. 

In life the scene is almost as unreal as the memory of it is on a 
crowded subway. For the escape of the doe above Cougar Lake is 
as silent as her exit from a dream. She seldom cracks a twig as she 
goes bounding through brush and trees. 

Long stretches of hard work often rob the night of sleep. There 
was one period when night after night I would be held at the office 
until two or three or four o clock in the morning and then be back 
at my desk at nine. I would be dog-weary when I reached home, but 
wide-awake when I got to bed. And so I would roll and toss, unable 
to sleep. Some people count sheep; others play their golf courses 
hole by hole. 

I would revisit in memory the Cascades and push up the Ahtanum 
over Darling Mountain and down into the Klickitat Meadows. I 
would catch cutthroat trout in the Little Klickitat and roast them 
on a stick over a willow fire. 

I would push on to Conrad Meadows; lie on the bank of the South 
Fork of the Tieton; and watch white clouds in the west build pat 
terns in the sky behind Gilbert Peak of the magnificent Goat Rocks. 

I would go up to Goat Rocks on the Conrad Creek Trail; skirt 


the base of Devils Horns and Tieton Peak; come to the basin below 
Meade Glacier; cross the glacier and snow fields above it; and finally 
sit in the rocky crow s-nest at the top of Gilbert Peak, with the vast 
panorama of the Cascades spread out below me. 

Or I would climb Hogback Mountain; drop to Shoe Lake; take the 
up-and-down washboard trail to McCall Basin; climb Old Snowy of 
the Goat Rocks, stand atop it, and feel the wind blowing through me. 

I never got farther along those old trails before I was asleep. So 
the memories of my early trips were relaxing influences better than 
any chemical sedative. 

Mount Adams has always had a special lure for me. Its memory 
has been the most haunting of all. Adams is more intimate than 
Rainier. Its lines are softer; it is more accessible. It has always been 
my favorite snow-capped mountain. My long ambition was to climb 
it. It was a mountain of mystery. It had been at one time, as I shall 
relate, a brave Indian chief named Klickitat. It had exhibited recent 
volcanic activity. High on its shoulders are crevasses that spout sulfur 
fumes. The Indians would not go up to its glaciers. There in the fast 
ness of the mountain lived the Tomanows, the spirit chiefs of the 

This mountain was so legendary I might not have believed it 
existed had I not lived in its shadow and seen it in sun and storm 
for twenty years. The vision of it would come back to me in dusty 
law libraries as I searched for the elusive thing called the law. High 
in an office building on New York s Wall Street I would be lost in 
the maze of a legal problem, forgetful of my bearings, and then 
suddenly look from the window to the west, thinking for a second 
that I might see Mount Adams, somber in its purplish snow at sun 
set. I have done the same thing while sitting deep in meditation 
in a canoe on a Maine lake or in a boat in Florida s Everglades. 

After a long absence from my old home town of Yakima, Wash 
ington, I have fairly raced by car down from Ellensburg or up from 
Pasco to see Mount Adams before night dropped the curtain around 
it. At such a time my heart has leaped at the first sight of it. Getting 


out of the car I have stood in a field, thrilled at the sight as if it 
were my first. At those moments my spine has always tingled. There 
is a feeling of respect and admiration and pride. One has the sensation 
of being part of something much bigger than himself, something 
great and majestic and wholesome. 

The Cascades have been particularly undeniable when I have lain 
in sickbed. In days of fever and sickness I have climbed Mount 
Adams, retraced every step from Cold Springs to the top, recrossed 
its snow fields, stood in a 5<>mile icy wind at its highest point, and 
there recaptured the feel of adventure and conquest and the sensa 
tion of being back millions of years at the time of the Creation. 

During hospital days I have explored many streams of the Cas 
cades, looking for the delicate periwinkle. I have cast a fly on dozens 
of their lakes, and searched the pools of the Big Klickitat, the South 
Fork of the Tieton^ Bumping River, and the Naches for rainbow 
trout. I have sat on the crags of Goat Rocks r 500 or 1000 feet below 
the summit, waiting for a mountain goat to appear in silhouette 
against the skyline. I have seen lively bug hatches on Fish and 
Swamp lakes. I have heard the noise of elk in the thickets along 
Petross Sidehill. 

These have been haunting memories that in illness returned me 
to the world of reality even when it seemed I might be close to the 
other side of the river. 

But the most vivid recollections have reached me in environments 
that have been bleak and dreary and oppressive. I remember a room 
in New York City on West isoth Street that overlooked an air well. 

The sun reached that room but a scant two hours a day. There 
was no other outlook. The whole view was a dull brick wall, pierced 
by dingy panes of glass. In one of these windows some poor soul had 
set a tiny, scrawny geranium. There were lively zoological specimens 
around such as cockroaches. But the only botanical specimen in 
sight was the geranium. I would see it in the morning when I arose 


and on rainy Sundays when I stayed indoors. In the poverty of that 
view the memories of the Cascades would come flooding back. 

Lush bottom lands along the upper Naches, where grass grows 
stirrup high succulent grass that will hold a horse all night. 

A deer orchid deep in the brush off the American River Trail. 

A common rock wren singing its heart out on a rock slide above 
Bumping Lake. 

Clusters of the spring beauty in the damp creek beds along the 
eastern slopes of Hogback Mountain. 

The smell of wood smoke, bacon, and onions at a camp below 
Meade Glacier. 

Indian paintbrush and phlox on the high shoulders of Goat 

The roar of the northwesters in the treetops in Tieton Basin. 

Clumps of balsam fir pointed like spires to the sky in Blankenship 

The cry of a loon through the mist of Bumping Lake. 

A clump of whitebark pine atop Darling Mountain gnarled and 
tough, beaten by a thousand gales. 

A black, red-crested woodpecker attacking in machine-gun style a 
tree at Goose Prairie. 

The scrawny geranium across the rooming house court in New 
York City brought back these nostalgic memories and many more. 
The glories of the Cascades grew and grew in the desolation of the 
bleak view from my window. New York City became almost unbear 
able. I was suffocated and depressed. I wanted to flee the great city 
with its scrawny geraniums and bleak courtyards. The longing for the 
silences of the Cascades, the smell of fir boughs at night, the touch of 
the chinook as it blew over the ridges these longings were almost 
irresistible in the oppressiveness of my New York City rooming house. 

I had had a similar experience on my way east to law school. I had 
left on a freight train from Wenatchee, Washington with 2000 sheep. 
That was in September, 1922. We had only reached Idaho when a 
railroad strike stopped the wheels. We had the sheep to feed and to 


water. Regular feeding points had been scheduled, but we did not 
reach them because of the strike. So we took the sheep out of the cars 
and herded them while we waited for an engine. In this way we spent 
eleven days moving by slow stages across Montana and North Dakota. 
Then came a wire from the owner to turn the sheep over to a buyer 
in western Minnesota. This we did. My companion returned to 
Yakima, and I caught the first freight to Chicago. 

I knew the freight trains well. Hitchhikers of the period prior to 
the First World War chose them as a matter of necessity, because the 
great flow of highway traffic had not yet started. Like many others, I 
had ridden the rods up and down the Yakima Valley and to points 
east, to work in the hay- and wheatfields and in the orchards. 

A literal riding of the rods is seldom done. This ordinarily means 
to ride under boxcars or passenger cars on a small platform of boards 
laid across rods that run lengthwise beneath some cars. It is a 
cramped space at best. It is frightfully dusty down there, the motion 
of the train whirling dirt and cinders its whole length. You lie on 
your stomach with your eyes closed, grimy and miserable. I hated that 
place. The open boxcars were more comfortable. But in them you 
might meet a fellow traveler who would not hesitate to toss you off 
the moving train after taking your money. Yet if you rode on top 
of cars you were subject to two other risks. 

The first was the freight yard police, whom we called yard bulls. 
They were armed; and I was in mortal fear of them. They were 
not men of discretion or manners. Their technique was to beat you 
up first and then arrest you. The other risk was the train crew. More 
often than not they were friendly, but occasionally a brakeman would 
try to collect fares from the hitchhikers. A dollar or perhaps fifty 
cents would be enough; but unless payment were made, the passenger 
might be handed over to the yard bulls at the next station. This 
was the shakedown, but the immunity it purchased often seemed 
worth the price. 

On this trip through Minnesota I paid toll to the crew of the 
freight train fifty cents apiece, as I recall. When we came to a new 
division point, I discovered that the new crew was also collecting 


fares. I was easy prey, for I was on a flatcar the only available space, 
except the rods and the top of the boxcars. This was a loaded and 
sealed train, carrying for the most part fruit in refrigerator cars. 
When the new brakeman came along he asked for a dollar and I 
paid him. Nothing more happened for a long time. Then along came 
the conductor. We were on the outskirts of Chicago. It was three 
or four o clock in the morning on a clear, cold night. The conductor 
asked for a dollar; he said there were yard bulls ahead, he did not 
want me to get into trouble, and he would see that the yard bulls 
did not arrest me. It was the same old story. 

I was silent for a while, trying to figure how I could afford to part 
with another dollar. I had only a few left. I had not had a hot meal 
for seven days; I had not been to bed for thirteen nights; I was filthy 
and without a change of clothes. I needed a bath and a shave and 
food; above all else I needed sleep. Even flophouses cost money. 
And the oatmeal, hot cakes, ham and eggs and coffee which I 
wanted desperately would cost fifty or seventy-five cents. 

"Why should I pay this guy and become a panhandler in Chi 
cago?" I asked myself. 

He shook me by the shoulder and said, "Come on, buddy. Do you 
want to get tossed off the train?" 

"I m broke," I said. 

"Broke?" he retorted. "You paid the brakeman and you can 
pay me." 

"Have a heart," I said. "I bet you were broke some time. Give a 
guy a break." 

He roared at me to get off or he would turn me over to the bulls. 
I was silent. 

"Well, jump off or I ll run you in." 

I watched the lights of Chicago come nearer. We were entering a 
maze of tracks. There were switches and sidetracks, boxcars on sid 
ings, occasional loading platforms. And once in a while we roared 
over a short highway bridge. It was dark and the train was going 
about thirty miles an hour. The terrain looked treacherous. A jump 
might be disastrous. But I decided to husband my two or three re- 


maining dollars. I stood poised on the edge of the flatcar, searching 
the area immediately ahead for a place to jump. 

Suddenly in my ear came the command, "Jump!" I jumped. 

Something brushed my left sleeve. It was the arm of a switch. 
Then I fell clear, hitting a cinder bank. I lost my footing, slid on 
my hands and knees for a dozen feet down the bank, and rolled 
to the bottom. 

I got slowly to my feet as the last cars of the freight roared by 
and disappeared with a twinkling of lights into the east. My palms 
were bleeding and full of cinders. My knees were skinned. I was 
dirty and hungry and aching. I sat on a pile of ties by the track, nurs 
ing my wounds. 

A form came out of the darkness. It proved to be an old man who 
also rode the rods. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, 
"I saw you jump, buddy. Are you hurt?" 

"No, thank you," I replied. "Not much. Just scratched." 

"Ever been to Chicago?" 


"Well," he said, "don t stay here. It s a city that s hard on fellows 
like us." 

"You mean the bulls?" 

"Yes, they are tough," he said. "Maybe they have to be. But it s 
not only that. Do you smell the stockyards?" 

I had not identified the odor, but I had smelled it even before I 

"So that s it?" 

"Yeah. I ve worked there. The pay ain t so bad. But you go home 
at night to a room on an alley. There s not a tree. There s no grass. 
No birds. No mountains." 

"What do you know of mountains?" I ventured. 

It led to his story. He had come, to begin with, from northern 
California. He had worked in the harvests, and as he worked he 
could look up and see the mountains. Before him was Mount Shasta. 
He could put his bedroll on the ground and fall asleep under the 
pines. There was dust in the fields of northern California, but it was 


good clean dirt. People were not packed together like sardines. They 
had elbow room. A man need not sit on a Sunday looking out on 
a bleak alley. He could have a piece of ground, plant a garden, and 
work it. He might even catch a trout, or shoot a grouse or pheasant, 
or perhaps kill a deer. 

I listened for about an hour as he praised the glories of the moun 
tains of the West and related his experiences in them. Dawn was 
coming, and as it came I could see the smoke and some of the 
squalor of which my friend spoke. 

I asked what brought him to the freight yards at this hour of the 
morning. He said he came to catch a west-bound freight back to 
God s own land, back to the mountains. Lonesomeness swept over 
me. I never had loved the Cascades as much as I did that early 
morning in the stockyards of Chicago. Never had I missed a snow 
capped peak as much. Never had I longed more to see a mountain 
meadow filled with heather and lupine and paintbrush. As dawn 
broke I could see smokestacks everywhere, and in the distance to the 
east the vague outlines of tall buildings. But there lay before me 
nothing higher, no ridge or hill or meadow only a great monotony 
of cinders, smoke, and dingy factories with chimneys pouring out a 
thick haze over the landscape. 

The old man and I sat in silence a few moments. He said, "Do you 
know your Bible, son?" 

"Pretty well." 

"Then you will remember what the psalmist said about the 

I racked my brain. "No, I don t recall." 

Then the old man said with intonations worthy of the clergy, "I 
will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. 
My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth." 

There was a whistle in the east. A quarter-mile down the track 
a freight was pulling onto the main line. 

"That s my train," he said. "That train takes me to the moun 
tains." He took my hand. "Good luck, son. Better come back with 
me. Chicago s not for us." 


I shook my head and said good-by with sadness. He smiled. "Stay 
clear of the flophouses. They ll roll you when you re asleep. Go to 
the Y.M.C.A. It s cheap and clean and they re on the level." 

The engine went by. The passing train was picking up speed. The 
old man was more agile than he looked. He trotted easily along the 
track, grabbed a handhold, and stepped lightly aboard on the bottom 
rung of the ladder. Climbing to the top of the boxcar, he took off his 
hat, and waved until he was out of sight. 

I watched the freight disappear into the West. That old man had 
moved me deeply. I recognized his type from the hobo jungles I had 
visited between Yakima and Chicago. In Yakima the jungles were 
usually under or near one of the Northern Pacific bridges across the 
Yakima River. There hoboes met, contributed food to the pot, and 
cooked their meals. Not once was I allowed to go hungry in a jungle. 
I was always invited to share in whatever meal was cooking. Some 
times I could contribute to the pot, other times I could not; but 
that made no difference. There was companionship and friendship 
in the jungle. 

I felt the jungle companionship in this old man of the stockyards. 
He was only a vagabond. But he was not a bum. I later realized that 
he had been a greater credit to his country than many of the more 
elite. He had made me see, in the dreary stockyards of America, 
some of the country s greatness kindness, sympathy, selflessness, 

I sat in the stockyards, watching the sun rise through the smoke 
and haze. There was a smell in the air that even the touch of the 
sun would not cleanse. There was not a tree or shrub or blade of 
grass in view. The Chicago I saw that morning was not the gracious, 
warmhearted city I later came to know. Nor was it the Chicago that 
Carl Sandburg painted: 

Hog butcher for the world, 

Toolmaker, stacker of wheat, 

Player with railroads and the nation s freight handler; 

Stormy, husky, brawling, 

City of big shoulders. 


That morning I had only a distorted and jaundiced view. I was 
hungry, dead tired, homesick, broke, and bruised. And my welcome 
had not been cordial. 

It seemed that man had built a place of desolation and had cor 
rupted the earth in so doing. In corrupting the earth he had 
corrupted himself also, and built out of soot and dirt a malodorous 
place of foul air and grimy landscape in which to live and work and 
die. Here there were no green meadows wet with morning dew to 
examine for tracks of deer; no forest that a boy could explore to 
discover for himself the various species of wild flowers, shrubs, and 
trees; no shoulder of granite pushing against fleecy clouds and stand 
ing as a reminder to man of his puny character, of his inadequacies; 
no trace of the odor of pine or fir in the air. 

I had a great impulse to follow my vagabond friend to the West, 
to settle down in the valley below Mount Adams and to live under 
its influence. Most of my friends and all the roots I had in life were 
in the Yakima Valley. There would be a job and a home awaiting 
me, and fishing trips and mountain climbs and nights on the high 
shoulders of Goat Rocks. It was a friendly place, not hard and cruel 
like these freight yards. People in the West were warmhearted and 
open-faced like my hobo friend. I would be content and happy there. 

Then why this compulsion to leave the valley? Why this drive, 
this impulse, to leave the scenes I loved? To reach for unknown stars, 
to seek adventure, to abandon the convenience of home? And what 
of pride? What would I say if I returned? That I didn t have the 
guts to work my way east, to work my way through law school, to 
live the hard way? 

These were my thoughts as the freight carried my vagabond friend 
into the West. Law school would open in a week. There was challenge 
ahead. New horizons would be opened, offering still untested op 

My decision was spiritual. It was too late to go back. I would sleep 
the clock around and then return to the freight yards to catch a 
ride to New York City and Columbia Law School. I turned my face 


to the East to my convictions and walked along the railroad track, 
headed for the Y.M.C.A. as my friend had recommended. 

Since that time I have often wondered whatever happened to the 
agile old man who befriended me in Chicago. I knew nothing much 
about him. But at least I have known that the mountains were im 
portant in shaping his kindness when he came to me through the 

Mountains have a decent influence on men. I have never met along 
the trails of the high mountains a mean man, a man who would 
cheat and steal. Certainly most men who are raised there or who 
work there are as wholesome as the mountains themselves. Those 
who explore them on foot or horseback usually are open, friendly 
men. At least that has been my experience. 

I saw the CCC camps in the early thirties work miracles with 
men. I remember a chap from Brooklyn whom I picked up out of 
La Grande, Oregon. We drove to Portland together. During the six 
or seven hours with him I learned something of his transformation. 
By his own admission he had been a pretty tough, mean character 
when he arrived in Oregon for work in the woods. He carried a chip 
on his shoulder. He was itching to punch "any bird" that pushed 
him around. And he did. One of them was the supervisor an army 
officer, I believe of the camp. He had found the world hard and 
cruel. There was always some guy to trim you, to do you in. You 
had to take care of yourself with your fists. He had learned the art 
on the streets of Brooklyn. When he punched the supervisor, he was 
given punishment what, I do not recall. That did not soften him, 
It was the two years in the woods that changed his character. 

He poured out his story on this long automobile ride. Things were 
different in the woods: "No use getting sore at a tree." There was 
nothing in the woods to hurt you "but the mountains can give you 
quite a beating if you re careless." The air up there is "sure pure. 
Can t smell no garbage." It was kind of lonesome back in the woods: 
"No dames. And say, mister, I sure miss those Dodgers," But it was 
nice to have it quiet. "No radio blaring at you across the alley." The 


nights in the woods got to be pretty nice: "There s a kind of music 
in the pine trees at night when the wind blows/ 7 

This chap was mellow. Now he had no chip on his shoulder. He 
was considerate. He was a tough guy transformed into a philosopher. 
He had found how great and good his country was. He was going to 
try to repay it for what it had done for him. 

The CCC had paid great dividends in citizenship of that character. 
His was not an isolated case. I heard the same story repeated again 
and again by supervisors of CCC camps. Jack Nelson, woodsman 
and philosopher (whose story I will later tell), bears witness to the 
miracles that happened. 

I had puzzled many times over the reason for such a transforma 
tion of man by the mountains. A few summers ago an old friend, 
Dr. George Draper of New York City father of psychosomatic 
medicine in this country was spending a month with me at my 
cabin in the high Wallowas of Oregon. One night before the fire 
I put the question to him. 

He thought a while and then said, "Man is at his worst when he 
is pitted against his fellow man. He is at his best when pitted against 

He was silent for a few moments. The tamarack log in the fireplace 
popped and threw sparks and coals against the screen as the fire 
roared up the chimney. The memory of my vagabond friend in the 
stockyards of Chicago came back to me as the doctor spoke. For the 
doctor too recited the words of the psalmist: "I will lift up mine eyes 
unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from 
the Lord who made heaven and earth." 

The doctor paused and then went on to say, "By help the 
psalmist meant strength. By strength he meant spiritual vitality that 
comes from faith faith in a universe of which he is a part, faith 
in a universe in which he has a place/ 

We sat for half an hour or so in silence. Mountains can transform 
men, I thought. Their lofty peaks, soft shoulders, and deep ravines 
have some special value to man, even though he does no more than 
view them from a distance. Those operating underground in the 


French Resistance during Nazi occupation often took a mountain 
as their code name. For mountains symbolize the indomitable will, 
an unbending resolution, a loyalty that is eternal, and character that 
is unimpeachable. 

There are other ways too in which mountains have spiritual values. 
When man ventures into the wilderness, climbs the ridges, and sleeps 
in the forest, he comes in close communion with his Creator. When 
man pits himself against the mountain, he taps inner springs of his 
strength. He comes to know himself. He becomes meek and humble 
before the Lord that made heaven and earth. For he realizes how 
small a part of the universe he actually is, how great are the forces 
that oppose him. 

Maybe all this is meant by West Virginia s motto, Montani 
Semper Liberi: mountaineers are always free men. 

Those were the thoughts that went through my mind after the 
doctor gave his answer to my question. Finally he turned to me and 
said, "You should write a book some day about the influence of 
mountains on men. If man could only get to know the mountains 
better, and let them become a part of him, he would lose much of his 
aggression. The struggle of man against man produces jealousy, 
deceit, frustration, bitterness, hate. The struggle of man against the 
mountains is different. Man then bows before Something that is 
bigger than he. When he does that, he finds serenity and humility, 
and dignity too." 

Chapter II Yakima 

THE night was pitch-black. A soft, warm southwest wind was blowing 
over the ridges of the Cascades. Spring was coming to the Yakima 
Valley. I felt it in the air. It was after midnight. The houses of 
Yakima were dark. Only the flickering street lights marked the way. 
We had just arrived by train from California. Father was up ahead 
with the suitcases, walking with giant strides. Mother came next, 
with a lad of a few months in her arms. My sister and I brought up 
the rear. 

There were strange noises among the occasional trees and shrubs 
that we passed. There were creepy sounds coming from the grass 
and from the irrigation ditch that ran along the sidewalk. I wondered 
if they were from snakes or lizards or the dread tarantula that I had 
been taught to fear in California! Maybe snakes were sticking out 
their forked tongues as they used to do under the steps of the house 
in Estrella! Maybe a tarantula would lie in wait and drop off a tree 
and get me when I passedl Maybe lizards in Yakima were giant 
lizards I And then there were the dread rattlesnakes that Mother 
spoke of with fear and trembling. Did they gulp young boys alive, 
like the snakes in the picture book that could swallow a whole sheep? 
Was the rustle in the grass the rustle of a rattler? These were alarm 
ing thoughts to a boy of five. 

I looked anxiously over my shoulder. The trees and bushes with 
the strange noises in them seemed to take the form of monsters with 
long arms. I ran to catch up. Then, by the time I had once more 
looked furtively over my shoulder at the shapele$s pursuing forms of 
the darkness, I discovered that I was far behind again. Why did 
Father walk so fast? I ran again to catch up. And so, block after 
block, I alternately lagged behind and ran, fearful of being lost and 


swallowed up in the night or grabbed by some demon of the dark. 

Father walked west from the Northern Pacific railroad station up 
Yakima Avenue. At Fifth Avenue he turned north, looking in the 
darkness for the house where our relatives, the Pettits, lived. He 
apparently did not have their exact address, or having it, was not 
able to read the house numbers in the dark. He stopped several times 
to arouse a household, only to find he had picked the wrong place. 

At one house he had hardly entered the yard before two great dogs 
came racing around opposite sides of the house, barking and snarling. 
I was frozen with fear. But Father did not hesitate or pause. He 
continued on his way, speaking to the dogs in a voice that was firm 
and that to the dogs as well as to me seemed to have the authority 
of the highest law behind it. The dogs became silen-t and trotted out 
to investigate us. They circled and sniffed me, putting their noses 
right into my face. I can still feel their hot, stinking breath. To me 
they seemed to be real demons of the darkness that had come to hold 
me for ransom. I wanted to scream. But the crisis was quickly passed. 
Father was soon back. He dismissed the dogs with ease, resumed his 
search, and presently found the house we wanted. A friendly door 
soon closed on all the strange noises and on the dangers of the outer 

This was in 1904. Father, a minister, had moved up from Califor 
nia for his health. We had lived at Estrella, California, which is near 
Paso Robles, in the hot, arid interior. The doctors recommended a 
cooler climate for him, so he had accepted a call to Cleveland, Wash 
ington. We were en route to Cleveland when we made this first visit 
to Yakima. 

Cleveland lies in Wood Gulch on the southern edge of the Simcoe 
Mountains, about 50 miles southwest of Yakima. In 1904, when we 
lived there, it was a lively village of a hundred or more inhabitants. 
There was a church and school, a post office, stores, and boarding 
houses. A half-dozen miles to the south was a small settlement ap 
propriately called Dot. To the east three miles was Bickleton. Father 


had the pastorate at each of the three places, preaching three sermons 
on Sunday. 

Stretches of the Columbia, some 30 miles to the south, could be 
seen from the fields around Cleveland. At that point the river runs 
through a valley of volcanic ash, sand, and sagebrush the brush that 
decorates all the plains of eastern Washington and Oregon and is the 
state flower of Nevada. For 200 miles or more the Columbia flows 
noiselessly through parched land, with only an occasional glimpse of 
green to break the desert monotony. This is the portion of the river 
that I first saw. It was springtime, I believe, and we were crossing on 
the ferry at Roosevelt, Washington. I remember an endless supply of 
water, moving swiftly but silently. The river was slightly murky; but 
from a distance it was aquamarine and sparkling. It was filled with 
mystery for me, because on these first crossings I saw strange flashes 
below its surface quick movements of salmon or steelhead or stur 
geon that excited me. 

Cleveland was a healthy place. It afforded relief from the heat 
of interior California, since the altitude was 3,000 feet above sea 
level. This plateau, stretching to the east, south, and west from Cleve 
land, was practically treeless. But there was a fine stand of ponderosa 
pine in Wood Gulch, and sprinklings of oak, willow, cottonwood, 
aspen, juniper, and black pine along the southern edges of the 
Simcoe Mountains. It was cool and relaxing in their shade. And 
there was a strong, bracing wind that blew from the west, carrying 
the coolness of Mount Adams on its wings. 

Mother always felt that Cleveland was a healthy place in other 
ways too. The people were the most hospitable she and Father had 
known. They were wheat farmers and cattlemen. Their farms were 
large units, running from 600 to 6000 acres. Though the people were 
scattered over many square miles, they formed in spirit a compact 
community. They were neighborly folks. Perhaps that was because 
of their isolation and remoteness, in those horse and buggy days, 
from the Yakima Valley and from Goldendale, the county seat of 
Klickitat County, 30 miles to the west. Perhaps it was the character 
of the people. Whatever the reason, they were friendly and co- 


operative. In time of need they came in from all points to lend a 
hand, whether to raise a church or a barn, move a house, put out a 
fire, or dig a grave. 

Some of them were small and selfish men. But Mother said that 
most of them were God-fearing folks honest, warmhearted, humble, 
and dignified. These were the McCredys, Courtneys, Faulkners, 
Colemans, Talberts, Rossiers, Trenners, Mittys, Lingos, and Varners. 
This was good, solid American stock of the kind that has made the 
country great. 

Father liked Cleveland and enjoyed ministering to its citizens. He 
was in his forties and seemed to have a useful life ahead of him. But 
before the year 1904 was out, he was carried to Portland, Oregon 
for an emergency operation. He never returned. He was present one 
day and then he was gone forever. There would never be another 
to lift me high in the air, to squeeze my hand and give me masculine 
praise. There were no longer any pockets I could search for nuggets 
of maple sugar. The step in the hallway, the laugh, the jingle of coins 
in the pockets these had gone as silently as the waters of the great 
Columbia. He never would return. At first I was not sure it was so 
complete. Later I was gradually convinced. 

When Father died we moved to Yakima, where Mother built a 
house for a few hundred dollars at 111 North Fifth Avenue. There 
we really settled down and lived for over 20 years. 

Yakima is located in south-central Washington. It lies in a semi- 
arid valley 1065 feet above sea level - There is little rainfall; the long- 
term average for the valley is about eight inches annually. The Cas 
cade Mountains on the west send numerous clear, cold streams 
tumbling down from their snow fields, the main one being the 
Yakima. To the east is a vast desert plateau (much of which will be 
irrigated by Grand Coulee Dam) extending almost 200 miles to the 
western foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains in Idaho. 

The town of Yakima is. rimmed by foothills, rising about 500 feet 
above the valley. The valley where the town is located is, indeed, 
a huge saucepan, somewhat narrower north-to-south than east-to- 


west. The Yakima River comes down from the north and enters the 
valley through Selah Gap a pass through the hills worn down by 
centuries of erosion. It leaves the valley through Union Gap on the 
south, and from there runs 80 miles to the Columbia. This great 
expanse of land below Union Gap, some 20 miles wide and 80 miles 
long, is known as the Lower Valley. Both below and above Union 
Gap the orchards and alfalfa fields extend far to the west, until they 
meet the pine and fir straggling down the slopes of the Cascades. 
Whichever way one looks there is some reclamation project that 
has transformed desert land into green fields and orchards. Through 
the gap to the north of Yakima is the rich Selah Valley; and to the 
northwest through Naches Gap are the valleys of the Naches and 
the Tieton, which played an especially important part in my early 

Father had ridden through the Yakima Valley one summer in th 
early nineties. It was then largely a wasteland of sagebrush, jack 
rabbits, and rattlesnakes. There were patches of alfalfa and some 
fields of hops in the bottom lands; and arms of orchards were be 
ginning to extend out from the river. There were the white or Garry 
oak, cottonwood, willow, and sumac along the banks of the Yakima, 
But only those touches of green on the dusty sagebrush background 
were inviting to the eye of a Nova Scotian used to green hills and 
lush meadows. 

The Cascades, some forty miles west as the crow flies, were dark 
blue in the afternoon sun. Their shade and the eternal snows of 
Mount Adams and Mount Rainier were tempting invitation to those 
who crossed the hot, parched valley on a summer day. To the un 
initiated the barren foothills, which leave the cool timber to join the 
hot desert, were uninviting. We who lived among them and tramped 
them and discovered their secrets came to love them. But like the 
valley they encircled, those barren hills at first blush had little to 
offer the early traveler or settler. 

The valley, however, was rich in feed for cattle and sheep, even 
before irrigation came. There was knee-high grass in the Cascades. 
And the dreary foothills also had food for stock. The famous blue- 


bunch wheatgrass of the West (Agropyron spicatum) grows there; 
it is a species of bunchgrass that cures on the stalk and forms a 
superior feed for livestock through the whole of the year, as Lewis 
and Clark first observed. And in the spring there are fresh shoots of 
wild flowers, of tender grasses, of wild onions and cows, and a new 
growth of tender leaves of the sage. 

Cattle were the first stock in the valley. Sheep followed; but cattle 
have always had a more prominent place in the economy. 

The soil of the valley is volcanic ash. It was first irrigated in the 
seventies, when ditches were dug to bring water to the hay and grain 
fields of cattlemen. It was soon learned that almost any produce will 
grow there if water is on the land. Clear skies during two-thirds or 
more of the growing season mean more than twice as much effective 
sunshine as New York enjoys. Thus, when the United States Rec 
lamation Service brought water down from the mountains, a desert 
became a garden. What was offered my father at a price as low as 
50 cents an acre became worth many hundred times that amount 
within a decade or so. 

This is now a famous fruit country apples, cherries, prunes, 
apricots, peaches, plums, and pears. At one time the balance of the 
economy was in apples, some orchards having been planted as early 
as 1870. Lessons learned from depressions brought more diversifica 
tion. Sugar beets, sweet corn, asparagus, grapes, and tree fruits other 
than apples now assume a larger proportion. Hops have always been 
an important product of the valley. There are still cattle and sheep. 
But when Washington was admitted into the Union in 1889, fruit 
and other direct produce of the soil began to take the lead. And so it 
has remained ever since. 

Thus the valley has had special attraction for those who love the 
soil. Its great productivity drew men like a magnet. In later years 
I saw sturdy Norsemen, refugees from the Dust Bowl where they 
had sweated and slaved and seen their crops parch and blow away, 
put their spades into the rich volcanic ash of Yakima, reach down 
and scoop both hands full, and stand with tears streaming down 
their faces, as the soft loamy soil ran through their fingers. This is a 


place where man will never starve, where he can build a home and 
raise strong sons. The snow of the Cascades will never fail to bring 
life to the desert and quench its thirst and the thirst of those who 
toil there. 

This valley was the ancestral home of the Yakima Indians. Along 
with the other Indians in the Western Hemisphere, they presumably 
came from Asia by way of the Bering Strait. Collier in The Indians 
of the Americas estimates that this migration took place around 
13,000 B.C. or 18,000 B.C. This was in the late Pleistocene era, when 
the central plain of Alaska was free of ice. The giant beaver, the 
mammoth, the camel, the dire wolf, and the four-horned antelope 
roamed the land; some of these have come down in the legends of 
the Indians. 

The land in the Lower Valley west of the Yakima river is in large 
part within the eastern edge of their reservation. This reservation, 
a million and a quarter acres in size, was created by the Treaty of 

Marcus Whitman had been murdered by the Cayuse in 1847 near 
Walla Walla at his Waiilatpu Mission, the mission that was the seed 
ling of sturdy Whitman College. The westward push was on. Settlers 
had already poured into the Willamette Valley in Oregon. They 
were beginning to turn north through the Yakima Valley and cross 
the Cascades by old Indian routes to Puget Sound. There was un 
easiness in the air. Conflict between the settlers and the Indians was 
imminent. The Treaty of 1855 was designed to ease the strain and 
avoid clashes. 

In the four years it took for ratification of the treaty, war broke 
out. The Yakimas, seeing their land opened to settlement before the 
treaty was ratified, went on the warpath, killing and raiding. Three 
years of warfare followed, the United States Army in 1858 finally 
crushing the military might of the Yakimas and their Indian allies 
to the east. 

Then the first permanent settlers began to move in. Much later, 
in 1877 and 1878, the Yakimas were once more stirring uneasily; 


there were more killings of white men. But that was the end of 
Indian violence. In 1880 the Federal government opened a land 
office in the valley and homestead filings began. 

Today the Yakimas still own miles and miles of the rich bottom 
lands in the Lower Valley. They seldom operate or manage them; 
they are landlords, and lease to many different interests, including 
a cannery. There are rich ranges for stock in the mountain section 
of the reservation, which lies at the foot of Mount Adams. Large 
herds of cattle graze there. Each member of the tribe has grazing 
rights for 100 head of cattle, with the privilege of almost limitless 
additional grazing at the low cost of $2.50 per head. In the reserva 
tion is a primeval stand of virgin timber, made up principally of 
ponderosa pine but including Douglas fir, larch, white fir, and other 
conifers that total in the aggregate about four billion board feet. 

We who were raised in Yakima did not know the Indians well. 
Some of them lived in town, but most of them held to the reserva 
tion. And most of the Indian children attended the public schools in 
the Lower valley. Not living with them or playing with them, we felt 
them strangers. We only saw them on the streets and in the stores 
and restaurants. Yakima Susie, for years said to be no years old, was 
usually on a street corner in Yakima, begging money. I remember 
her best on the northwest corner of First Street and Yakima Avenue, 
sitting on the sidewalk with high moccasins, beaded headband or 
scarf, and a light blanket over her shoulders. On Saturday afternoons 
we children would glue pennies to strings and drag them across the 
walk in front of her. She would shake her fist at us or come at us 
fiercely, screeching horrid-sounding Indian words. 

Saturday nights the Indians would come into the stores for shop 
ping. They had some amusing habits. They never would place their 
whole order at once. They would bargain for a single article at a 
time, and when the bargain for that article was completed they 
would pay the price and leave. They would be back in a jiffy, having 
left the purchased article outside. Then the negotiation for the next 
article on their list would start. And so the process continued until 
all purchases were made. 


For the most part they spoke good English; and a few were well 
educated. I remember one storekeeper of a Saturday night going up 
to a squaw, dressed in moccasins and a buckskin shirt, and saying 
condescendingly, "Squaw catchum glove?" There was no response 
for a minute and then the squaw said in a tone and voice worthy 
of a graduate of an Eastern finishing school, "No, thank you. I am 
just waiting for my sister/ 

Occasionally a Yakima would fill himself with firewater and go on 
a spree. Sometimes we d see a few in flashy cars visiting the town 
on a Saturday splurge. But these were the exceptions. By and large 
the Indians would come to town on Saturday night, mingle peace 
fully with the whites in stores, restaurants, and theaters, and then 
melt away into the night, back to their reservation. Their citizenship 
compared favorably with that of the rest of the people. 

For a youngster the Indians added a touch of mystery and enchant 
ment to the valley. Their folklore and legends gave a distinct flavor 
to the region. But the Indians were far in the background. 

In the foreground were the mountains. All those who lived in the 
valley looked to the Cascades for health and sustenance. The moun 
tains furnished water, and water was more precious than gold. Hence 
we were utterly dependent on the snow-capped ridges that lay against 
the western horizon. They became the symbols of our hopes and 

Over the years, Adams and Rainier in particular became personal 
friends of mine. I could see them from our front porch. Our home 
in Yakima was on what was then the western outskirts of the town. 
There were no trees to obstruct our view of Adams and Rainier. 
The locust and maple by the sidewalk had just been planted from 
nursery stock. The city officials, with a discerning look into the future, 
had brought irrigation water to each city lot, so that trees and grass 
could be grown. But the avenues of trees that now give shade to that 
lovely oasis were then only seedlings. So I saw from my home thou 
sands of sunsets over Adams and Rainier, their glaciers tinged with red 


or gold as if some artist of Paul Bunyan proportions were using their 
ice fields as his canvas. 

On hot summer days I often looked longingly at both snow-capped 
peaks, imagining they were great chocolate sundaes. It took no 
imagination to believe that the vast tongues of lava that poured 
down from their snowy crests were creamy chocolate flowing over 
ice cream. The idea caught my fancy. They were giant ice-cream 
sundaes, made by Paul Bunyan who had come into this country 
from Minnesota. Then as now, Paul Bunyan stories were part of the 
folklore of the region. Certainly a man whose blue ox measured forty 
ax handles (plus the width of a tobacco can) between the eyes would 
not be satisfied with sundaes of smaller proportions! 

Mount Adams had the greater hold on me. In the dusk I had 
often seen it cold and forbidding. When the moon and sky were 
bright, its vague outline was visible from the valley, over which it 
seemed to stand as a lonely sentinel. It rose in all its glory when on 
a cloudless morning the rays of the sun first hit its icy sides. Then it 
was truly resplendent, as a giant warrior in white armor tinged with 

It was at Father s funeral that Mount Adams made its deepest 
early impression on me. Indeed, that day it became a symbol of great 
importance. The service was held in Yakima. Inside the church it 
was dark and cool; and the minister s voice rolled around like an 
echo in a cavern. It was for me meaningless and melancholy. I longed 
to escape. I remember the relief I felt in walking out onto a dusty 
street in bright sunlight. There were horses and carriages; and then 
a long, slow trek to the cemetery. Dust, the smell of the horses, and 
more dust, filled my nostrils. 

It was a young cemetery. The trees were saplings. There was but 
little green grass. Dust seemed to be everywhere. I heard hard, dry 
lumps of dirt strike the casket. The cemetery became at once a place 
of desolation that I shunned for years. As I stood by the edge of the 
grave a wave of lonesomeness swept over me. Then in my lonesome- 
ness I became afraid afraid of being left alone, afraid because the 
grave held my defender and protector. These feelings were deepened 


by the realization that Mother was afraid and lonesome too. My 
throat choked up, and I started to cry. I remembered the words of 
the minister who had said to me, "You must now be a man, sonny/ 
I tried to steel myself and control my emotions. 

Then I happened to see Mount Adams, towering over us on the 
west. It was dark purple and white in the August day. Its shoulders 
of basalt were heavy with glacial snow. It was a giant whose head 
touched the sky. 

As I looked, I stopped sobbing. My eyes dried. Adams stood cool 
and calm, unperturbed by an event that had stirred us so deeply 
that Mother was crushed for years. Adams suddenly seemed to be 
a friend. Adams subtly became a force for me to tie to, a symbol of 
stability and strength. 

Chapter III Infantile Paralysis 

THERE was a driving force that took me first to the foothills and 
then to the mountains, though I myself did not recognize it for what 
it was until years later. From the time I was about twelve years old 
I took every occasion to slip out of town for hikes into the foothills. 
The occasions were not frequent, for each day after school I delivered 
newspapers and on Saturdays I worked in stores, creameries, and cold 
storage plants. In the summer months I worked in the packing 
houses and orchards at all the jobs that were available thinning of 
fruit, spraying, irrigating, picking, making boxes, packing fruit, icing 
and loading refrigerator cars. There was a regular sequence of fruit 
during the summer cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, and apples. 
But there were gaps between the crops. And in the fall, winter, and 
spring, there were Sunday afternoons, holidays, and occasional eve 
nings when a few hours would be free. On these occasions I explored 
the foothills. 

I would leave the town and head toward Selah Gap, the point of 
the foothills nearest my home on North Fifth Avenue. There I would 
test my legs and lungs against the hillside. It was hard work: two 
miles at the fast pace of perhaps five or six miles an hour; the climb 
of a hillside 500 feet or more in elevation; then a return to home and 
bed, dead tired, every muscle of my legs aching. Time and again I 
followed this routine, turning my back on more pleasant diversions 
that Yakima offered. 

A friend who preferred the shade of the locust trees in the city, 
the movies, and the reading room of the Y.M.C.A. would taunt me 
about these trips. He conceded that it took something special to 
climb the monotonous foothills over and again. But he added, 
"Being a fool don t hurt any either." 



It was, however, infantile paralysis that drove me to the outdoors. 

I had had it when I was a small child. I ran a high fever for sev 
eral weeks. All but the country doctor despaired of my life, and he 
had only a slightly more optimistic view. He finally confided in 
Mother and gave her his candid opinion: There was a good chance 
that I would lose the use of my legs; even if I did not, I would not 
live long probably not beyond forty. He had no remedy for the 
short life. He did, however, have a prescription for the legs a pre 
scription that the medical profession forty years later had hardly 
improved upon. His prescription was frequent massage in salt water, 
a fifteen-minute massage every two hours every day for weeks. 

Mother kept a vigil. She soaked my legs in warm salt water and 
rubbed it into my pores, massaging each leg muscle every two hours, 
day after day, night after night. She did not go to bed for six weeks. 
The fever passed; but the massages continued for weeks thereafter. 

I vaguely recall the ordeal. I lay in bed too weak to move. My legs 
felt like pipestems; they seemed almost detached, the property of 
someone else. They were so small and thin that Mother s hands 
could go clear around them. She would knead them like bread; she 
would push her hands up them and then down, up and down, up 
and down, until my skin was red and raw. But she would not stop 
because of that. She said she wanted me to be strong, to be able 
to run. She told me that when she was a girl she could run like the 
wind; no one could catch her. She wondered if I would ever be able 
to do so. And then she d laugh and rub my legs rub and rub and 
rub and two hours later, rub some more. 

One day the doctor came and I sat on the edge of the bed. I 
could not stand alone. I reached for Mother s hand, pulled myself 
up, and stood there weak and unsteady. I tried to walk but could 
not. I saw tears in Mother s eyes, and she and the doctor went away 
to have a whispered conversation. 

The massages were continued. I lay in bed most of the time. Each 
day I tried to walk a bit. The weakness in my legs gradually disap 
peared. My feet would flop a bit; the muscles of my knees would 
twitch; curious numb sensations would come and go. But before 


many months I relearned to walk, and the frailty which the disease 
had caused seemed to pass. Someone said that the salt water and 
massages had effected wonders. Mother was silent awhile and then 
said, "So did my prayers/ 

But the ordeal had left its scars. Mother believed the doctor im 
plicitly, and was convinced that the sand would fast run out of my 
glass. So she set about to guard my health, to protect me against 
physical strains, to do all sorts of favors designed to save my energy. 
I was waited on, hand and foot. Worse than that, I began to hear 
what Mother was saying to others: "He s not as strong as other boys; 
he has to be careful what he does you know, his legs were almost 

This solicitousness set up a severe reaction. It seemed to me I was 
being publicly recognized as a puny person a weakling. Thus there 
began to grow in me a great rebellion. I protested against Mother s 
descriptions of me. But I believe my rebellion was not so much 
against her as it was against the kind of person I thought I was 
coming to be. 

The crisis in my attitude was reached when I was around thirteen 
years old. I wore knee breeches, knickerbocker style. Black cotton 
stockings covered my legs. I was spindly. Concentrated exercise, like 
sprinting or wrestling, made me feel faint; and sometimes I d be sick 
at my stomach or get a severe headache. I was deeply sensitive about 
my condition and used many a stratagem to conceal my physical 

One day I was walking to school, carrying a pile of books under 
one arm. I heard a group of boys coming hehind. They were older 
boys in the same public school, but strangers to me. As they caught 
up, one said, "Look at that kid s skinny legs. Aren t they something? 
Did you ever see anything as funny?" 

The others laughed; then another one said, "Sure would cover 
them up if they were mine." 

The words were a lash across my face. The laughter burned like 
an iron on my neck. I was humiliated and ashamed. I wanted to 


retort. But I trembled and my throat became dry so I could not 
answer. Then, as quickly as a flash flood, came tears. 

I could not face up to the boys because of the tears. I had to turn 
away. It seemed that by crying I had not only confirmed but had 
proved the charge twice over. I stood condemned in the public eye 
a weakling. 

A great depression swept over me and lingered for months. I 
didn t want to go to school. I wanted to hide. I wanted long trousers 
an idea that Mother pooh-poohed. I wanted to stay indoors. I felt 
ashamed of my appearance. I became self-conscious and shy. I was 
irritable and sensitive to criticism. 

I imagined I saw in the appraising eyes of everyone who looked 
at me the thought, "Yes, he s a weakling." The idea festered. As I 
look back on those early years, I think I became a rebel with a cause. 
My cause was the disproof of the charge of inferiority that had been 
leveled by the jury of my contemporaries. There was no one in whom 
I could confide; no one to whom I could express my inner turmoil 
and tension. So the revolt grew and grew in my heart. 

My first resolve, I think, was to prove my superiority by achieve 
ment in a field that was open even to a boy with weak and puny 
legs. That field was the schoolroom. 

"I can get good grades, if I work/ I said. "I can get better grades 
than any strong-legged boy in school. I can get 100 in every course/ 

No one could get higher grades than that. I d prove I was not a 
weakling. So I threw myself into that endeavor. I poured every ounce 
of energy I could muster into my studies and came close to making 
the scholastic record I had set for myself. 

But my scholastic achievements did not solve my difficulties. There 
was the haunting thought that infantile paralysis had left me a weak 
ling, that I was indeed a cripple, unable to compete with other boys 
in the physical world. And the physical world loomed large in my 
mind. I read what happened to cripples in the wilds. They were the 
weak strain that nature did not protect. They were cast aside, dis 
carded for hardier types. The coyote got the deer or fawn that was 
too weak to keep up with the others. The crippled bird did not have 


much chance to survive the cats and hawks and other enemies that 
roamed the countryside. Man was the same, I thought. Only strong 
men can do the work of the world operating trains, felling trees, 
digging ditches, managing farms. Only robust men can be heroes of 
a war. 

During my school studies I had read of the Spartans of ancient 
Greece. They were rugged and hardy people, the kind that I aspired 
to be. So I searched out the literature that described their habits 
and capacities to see if I could get some clue to their toughness. 
My research brought to light various staggering bits of information. 
I found in Plato s Republic a passage that shattered my morale. Plato 
talked of the dangers to the race through propagation of the "in 
ferior" type of person. By the "inferior" he meant those who were 
physical weaklings. There was no doubt about it, because he de 
scribed what should be done with children of that character, 

The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the 
pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who 
dwell in a separate quarter, but the offspring of the inferior, or of the 
better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some 
mysterious, unknown place, as they should be. 

These were ideas that I struggled against. It was oppressive to 
think that I would have been destroyed by the Spartans to make 
room for some hardier boy. By boyhood standards I was a failure. 
If I were to have happiness and success, I must get strong. And so 
I searched for ways and means to do it. 

One day I met another boy, whom I had known at Sunday school, 
coming in on a fast walk from the country. He was a husky, long- 
legged chap, to me a perfect physical specimen. I asked him where 
he d been, and he replied that he had been climbing the foothills 
north of town. I asked him why he did it. He told me that his doctor 
had advised it; that he was trying to correct certain difficulties follow 
ing an illness. He was climbing the foothills every day to develop his 
lungs and legs. 

An overwhelming light swept me. My resolution was instantaneous. 
I would do the same. I would make my legs strong on the foothills. 


Thus I started my treks, and used the foothills as one uses weights 
or bars in a gymnasium. First I tried to go up the hills without 
stopping. When I conquered that, I tried to go up without change 
of pace. When that was achieved, I practiced going up not only 
without a change of pace but whistling as I went. 

That fall and winter the foothills began to work a transformation 
in me. By the time the next spring arrived, I had found new con 
fidence in myself. My legs were filling out. They were getting stronger. 
I could go the two miles to Selah Gap at a fast pace and often 
reach the top of the ridge without losing a step or reducing my speed. 
Following these hikes the muscles of my knees would twitch and 
make it difficult for me to sleep at night. But I felt an increasing 
flow of health in my legs, and a growing sense of contentment in my 

Chapter IV Sagebrush and Lava Rock 

THESE early hikes put me on intimate terms with the hills. I learned 
something of their geology and botany. I came to know the Indian 
legends associated with them. I discovered many of their secrets. I 
learned that they were always clothed in garments of delicate hues, 
though they seemed to be barren. I discovered that though they 
looked dead and monotonous, they teemed with life and had many 

There is a Russian saying that every devil praises the marshes 
where he was born. Early associations control the nostalgic urges of 
every person. For Holmes it was granite rocks and barberry bushes. 
For others it may be lilacs, sycamores, willows, the checkerboard of 
wheat lands, or rolling hills. My love is for what many would put 
down as the dreariest aspects of the dry foothills of the West sage 
brush and lava rock. 

This sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) is found throughout 
the West. It is as American as the New England twang, the Southern 
drawl, the "You bet" of the West, or "Youse guys" from Brooklyn. 
It covers the foothills around Yakima. It grows at 8000 feet on Hart 
Mountain in southern Oregon. It holds the soil in place throughout 
the western belt from Canada to Mexico. It is the bush that Lewis 
and Clark called "southern wood/ It commonly grows only a foot 
and a half or two feet high. But in gullies and ravines and other 
spots that collect water for part of the year, it may grow as high as 
a man s head. John Scharff, superintendent of the Malheur Bird 
Refuge in southern Oregon, bragged of the Steens Mountain sage 
brush, "Its real timber, boys. This fall my first job is to run some 
lines and cruise and scale it." 

It s tough and wiry; and it makes a quick, hot, pungent fire. In 



the springtime its tender new leaves make browse for antelope and 
sheep. Bunchgrass that cures on the stalk, and provides year-round 
food for stock, grows in its shade. It also furnishes protection and 
moisture for the myriad of wild flowers that in springtime briefly 
paint light streaks of blue and yellow and white on desert slopes. 
And it is in its full glory when spring rains fall. 

That s the way I first remember it on the foothills of Yakima at 
night. A light., warm rain was falling. The air was permeated with 
the smell of freshly dampened dust and with the pungent but delicate 
odor of sage. 

The lava rock is part of the great Columbia lava or basalt, which 
includes some andesite. Layer upon layer of it underlies eastern 
Washington and Oregon. During the Tertiary period it boiled up 
from the bowels of the earth. The period of its greatest activity was 
the Miocene, some 30 million years ago. There were at times centuries 
between the various flows. This molten rock poured largely out of 
great fissures, not from volcanoes. It flooded the entire Yakima coun 
try, which then was largely a lowland, and covered most of what is 
now the Cascades. There were at least 28 layers of the hot, liquid 
rock poured over this country. Their aggregate thickness is over 5000 
feet. The magnitude of the Columbia lava as a geological phenom 
enon has never been surpassed and has been equalled only by the 
great Deccan basalts in India. The Deccan trap covers about 200,000 
square miles on the west side of the peninsula of India. In the vicin 
ity of Bombay it is about 6000 feet thick. The Deccan trap is older 
than the Columbia lava for it belongs to the Cretaceous rather than 
the Tertiary period. It is largely horizontal and has suffered greater 
decay than ours. 

In the late Miocene there was great volcanic activity in the Cas 
cades. Streams flowing eastward deposited light-colored sandstones 
and gravels (known as the Ellensburg Formation) on top of the 
basalt. Near Yakima are clay deposits covered by a lava flow a hun 
dred feet thick. So it must be that a huge wave of molten rock once 
overran a large lake, obliterating it with a hissing of steam and 


filling the sky with clouds of smoke from the trees and shrubs that 
were ignited in the process. We know that this was long before the 
glacial period. The lava surfaces have been polished by thick tongues 
of ice that moved down from the north in the Pleistocene age, a 
million and a half years or more ago. A glacier indeed moved to the 
edge of the Yakima Valley and lay there on the lava for tens of thou 
sands of years. 

The Columbia River, eating its way through the Cascades as it 
pours its water toward the Pacific, has revealed many of these layers. 
The Snake River, when it carved Hell s Canyon between Oregon 
and Idaho and dug down 7900 feet to make the deepest hole on the 
continent, disclosed even more. That canyon reveals dozens of layers 
of the black Iava 7 each 20 or 30 feet thick. They look at a distance 
like layers of rich chocolate in a Paul Bunyan cake. 

A whole hillside 3,000 to 4,000 feet high is carved into a series 
of plateaus shaped like huge steps. Vast fields of bunchgrass run 
down hill between these outcroppings. Each field ends at the edge of 
a cliff of rimrock. Thus in this region it is not unusual during slippery 
weather to have cattle literally fall out of pasture and be killed. 

Out of Yakima, along the Naches and especially the Tieton, the 
lava takes bizarre and startling forms. It may lie in sheets that appear 
as thin as flakes of chocolate candy. It often stands like cordwood on 
end, or rises like giant pillars against a hillside. Huge comers of it 
will form the shoulder of a ridge or a spire above the crest. And the 
discoloration caused by the lichens and moss that often grow on its 
exposed surfaces suggests the unfinished work of unseen artists. 

This rock retains the heat of the sun throughout the night. For 
that reason the orchards of Yakima that are surrounded by out 
croppings of it are quite free from frosts that kill fruit less favorably 
located. For that reason also, rattlesnakes are sometimes found curled 
on lava rock, warming their bellies. 

Once a rattler, so positioned, struck at me. I was standing on a 
steep hillside, shoulder high to a ledge of rimrock. I heard the rattle, 
and from the corner of my eye I saw him coiled and ready to strike, 
not more than two feet from my cheek. As he struck I jumped, lost 


my footing, and rolled 40 or 50 feet down the ravine. Remembering, 
I still seem to feel his hissing breath near my ear. 

That was carelessness. For we who were raised in the environment 
of the Columbia lava know the risks of the rattler. All up and down 
the Ahtanum, Tieton, and Naches were stories of fishermen who 
were bitten on the fingers or face when they grasped lava ledges 
above them without first exploring the top. One moves warily through 
this lava rock country. 

The rattlesnake Wak-puch is not entirely evil. Unlike other 
poisonous snakes, he is sufficiently friendly to speak before he strikes, 
to give notice of his plans. And he much prefers to escape man than 
to attack him. His attack is only to repel a trespass. This is his 
domain, his ancestral home. He was here long before man. Hence 
there is reason why he can speak with authority. Moreover, according 
to the lore of the Yakimas, he has magical powers. He hears what 
people say and can avenge insults. To this day the Yakimas are super 
stitious about killing him. Thus on these earlier explorations of the 
foothills the rattler added mystery, suspense, and magic to the land of 
lava rock and sagebrush. 

When I walked the foothills of Yakima on wintry nights I would 
often build a bonfire of sagebrush at the base of an outcropping of 
rimrock. There I would sit, my back to the rock, protected from the 
wind, hoping the warmth of the fire would not awaken a den of 
rattlers with the false message that an early spring had arrived. 

I discovered on my early hikes that the moods of the foothills are 
as variable as the seasons of the year or the hours of the day. In the 
spring they have a light green tinge. Later they turn to yellows and 
browns when the cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) becomes a dry husk 
and when the bunchgrass cures on the stalk. One who sees them 
casually from a Pullman car would rate them dreary and dull. 
Theodore Winthrop, the first white man to cross over the Washing 
ton Cascades from the west, described these foothills in Canoe and 
Saddle in 1853 as a "large monotony." But they have great charm 
for those who come to know them. 


In the afternoon sun they can appear as soft and smooth as a 
lady s velvet gown. In the gathering haze of a storm they can be a 
bluish-green in the distance, somber and threatening. At sunrise 
after a storm they often glisten like a hillside of ripe grain. In the 
fall they take on a mustardy yellow hue. 

Clouds can transform them from a drab to a warm, colorful back 
drop for the valley. And the transformation can come as fast as the 
conception of life itself. A setting sun can turn their dull brown to 
red, orange, or blue. Those who were raised under the spell of the 
Green Mountains, the Berkshires, or the White Mountains would 
have difficulty in accommodating themselves to the poverty of our 
barren foothills. But one who watches them closely for an hour on 
a summer evening will see as many different moods as man himself 
has in a day. 

It was a real ordeal for me to walk them in the dead of summer. 
Then they were parched and dry. They offered no shade from the hot 
sun and no springs or creeks where thirst could be quenched. Then 
the rattlesnake seemed to thrive. But in the spring, fall, and winter 
the foothills were interesting places to explore; my exercises on their 
slopes were then more fun than ordeal. 

In the spring the tender leaves of the sage appeared. Blossoms of 
the bitterbrush painted streaks of yellow through the sage. In the 
draws and ravines the western ryegrass sent up new shoots. The 
earliest of the wild flowers was the pepper-and-salt, the diminutive 
member of the Lomatiums. It often flowered under the snow as the 
trailing arbutus does in New England. A soft carpet of violets, but 
tercups, yellow bells, and eye grasses would appear. But these were 
fragile flowers that hardly had a chance to taste the sweetness of life 
before they died. Then came the dwarf phlox and the delicate shoot 
ing stars. The lupine, dwarf sunflowers, sage pinks, and blue bells 
were hardier specimens and lingered longer. But they too were usually 
gone by June, leaving some relics behind. The relics were the pods 
of lupine that were poisonous to stock, and the dry leaves of the sun 
flower plant that rustled and rattled when I walked through them. 


That sound always startled me with the thought that I had disturbed 
a snake. 

Yet the disappearance of these flowers did not mark the passage 
of all color that transformed this parched land into a colorful garden. 
Later came the purple and white asters; the ever present yarrow; the 
sedum with its starry flowers of bright yellow; the wild onion, one of 
the loveliest of all the filigrees of nature, its six petals of deep purple 
set off by anthers of pale yellow; and the exquisite bitterroot. In some 
ravines, especially those out Cowiche way, came scatterings of wild 
rose, elderberry, chokecherry, and mockorange. 

I do not envy those whose introduction to nature was lush 
meadows, lakes, and swamps where life abounds. The desert hills of 
Yakima had a poverty that sharpened perception. Even a minute 
violet quickens the heart when one has walked far or climbed high 
to find it. Where nature is more bountiful, even the tender bitterroot 
might go unnoticed. Yet when a lone plant is seen in bloom on scab- 
land between batches of bunchgrass and sage, it can transform the 
spot as completely as only a whole bank of flowers could do in a more 
lush environment. It is the old relationship between scarcity and 

These are botanical lessons of the desert which the foothills of 
Yakima taught me. 

In the early spring, when the soft chinooks came up from the 
southwest, I especially loved to leave the city and take to the foot 
hills. Chinook is the name of Indians who lived on the west side of 
the Cascades. Early settlers on the reaches of the Columbia called 
warm, damp winds by the name chinook because such winds ordi 
narily came from the direction where these Indians lived. Gradually 
the name was attached to the equatorial trade winds that sweep the 
north Pacific coast from the southwest. It was the wind I first felt on 
my cheeks the night Father brought us to Yakima. It was a beneficent 
wind. And because it sang softly on the ridges and stirred the whole 
valley to life, it seemed full of romance and enchantment. 

The Yakimas have a legend about this wind that centers around 


the coyote. Coyote (Speel-yi) had a unique symbolic significance 
among the Yakimas and other tribes that inhabited the Columbia 
River Valley and the eastern slopes of the Cascades. He was the 
agent through which the Spirit Chief worked his will. Coyote had 
supernatural powers. He had only to give the command and a salmon 
would jump out of the river into his arms. He could change himself 
into a man, a dish, a board, or any other object. He could also trans 
form others by his magic. Thus the water snipe and the kildee had 
been women who had rejected his overtures and scorned him, and 
whom he therefore had decreed should always live near the river and 
eat fish. 

Coyote could be killed and yet return to life in his old form or in 
a new one. He was wily and smart, with keen insight into human 
motivations. Compared to him the fox was slow-witted. And though 
Coyote was crafty and selfish, his main concern was for the welfare of 
the people. 

In each tribe there were a few elderly Indians who could under 
stand the meaning of the howls of the coyote. In this manner the 
death of some important man in a far-off community was predicted 
by listening to the changing howls of the coyote. In addition to fore 
casting future events, these coyote howls were a method of com 
munication between tribes. Thus Alba Showaway, son of Alex, chief 
of the Yakimas, told me that the death of a leading Indian in Warm 
Springs, Oregon, hundreds of miles away, was relayed by coyotes 
the very next day to the medicine men of the Yakimas. 

Even today some of the Yakimas will not kill a coyote. Though 
many of them have discarded their old superstitions because of the 
bounty and the value of the pelts, a residue of the old attitude per 
sists. Only recently Alba Showaway accidentally killed a coyote. He 
directed that the hide be removed and the carcass buried deep down 
in the ground. The next morning he discovered that his dog had dug 
up the body and was eating it. Shortly thereafter the dog had four 
puppies, which, according to Alba, died one after the other because 
the mother had partaken of the flesh of the coyote. 

If has been thought that the deification of Coyote was due to the 


fact that Tyhee, the Spirit Chief of the Indians of the Pacific North 
west, was a revengeful not a beneficent diety. He had no kindness or 
compassion in his heart. The Indians observed that in the woods the 
weaker animals survived only by cunning. That was therefore the 
only route by which they could escape the vengeance of their god. 
So they deified the weakest and craftiest of all major animals, the 
coyote, to help them in their struggle for survival. 

The legend of the chinook wind runs as follows: The Chinook 
brothers caused the warm wind to blow from the southwest. The 
Walla Walla brothers caused a cold wind to blow from the northeast. 
These two groups were always fighting. The Walla Walla brothers 
would freeze rivers; the Chinook brothers would thaw them. There 
would be floods and the people would suffer. 

Coyote finally refereed between these warring factors. Every time 
a contestant fell down, Coyote would cut off his head. At last there 
were only two left, and Coyote let each live. But Coyote told the 
Walla Walla that he must blow lightly and never again freeze the 
people. Coyote told the Chinook that he was the warm breath to 
melt the winter s snow but that he should blow hardest only at night 
and that he should always warn the people by blowing first on the 
ridges of the mountains. Thus Coyote brought a mild climate to the 

The chinook wind did in fact seem to blow hardest at night. Then 
it was exhilarating to be abroad. That was one reason why I liked to 
start for the near-by foothills at dusk, have a light supper at the top 
of a ridge before a sagebrush fire, and take off into the west. 

The outdoors always seemed to come to life at night. These barren 
windswept ridges, which seemed so dead and dull and listless under 
the high sun, would fairly murmur in the darkness. When I stood 
still and listened I could hear the chinook wind rustle the sage and 
set up in the cheatgrass a faint vibration. 

If I stretched out on the ground and listened, I could indeed hear 
the cheatgrass singing softly in the wind. The sage, too, would join 
the symphony. It was Peattie who said that the sage lets the wind go 
softly and tirelessly through its fingers (The Road of a Naturalist). 


But the legend is that, as it does so, it sings in memory of the Idaho 
Indians whose plains it covered as far as the eye could see and whose 
mountains it decorated far above the deep-snow line. And the verse 
of its song is always the same, "Shoshone, Shoshone." 

A startled jack rabbit would stomp and give the alarm and make 
off through the sage. A mouse would scurry for his hole. An owl, in 
terrupted in his prowl, would screech his disapproval of the intrusion 
and, flapping coarsely, make off into the night. In the early evening 
I would often see silhouetted against the skyline a coyote standing on 
some ledge or point of rock. Almost invariably, if I were out for a few 
hours, his plaintive cry would come floating down to me on the 
wind from a distant rimrock. And when I disturbed the desert life 
by putting a dog out in front, the noise was for a place of desolation 
a veritable commotion. 

The air was fragrant with the delicate odor of sage. The chinook 
always carried, as it swept across this desert area, the distinctively 
refreshing smell of dusty earth freshly dampened. The chinook was 
soft and balmy and brought rain to the dry interior of Washington 
which had become parched when the Cascades rose to such heights 
that they cut off the moisture from the ocean. 

When I tramped the foothills in dead of winter, the pulse of life 
on the ridges was slow. The wind swept down from Mount Adams 
and Mount Rainier, cold and piercing. When I bent forward walking 
into it, I soon would be looking for some black rimrock where I 
could find protection from the wind and where I could build a sage 
brush fire. When I turned around and started home, the strong wind 
at my back made me feel as if the strength of giants was in me. I 
strode along the barren ridge in ease, commanding the city that lay 
at my feet. 

Once the valleys hemmed in by these foothills were lakes. Beyond 
the gap to the north in the Kittitas Valley, there had been a lake. 
There had also been one in the Selah Valley to the northwest, in the 
Naches to the northwest, in the Ahtanum to the west, in the Moxee 
to the east, and in the Lower Valley south of Union Gap, The In- 


dians had first arrived in the valley by boat. They came in the fashion 
of Noah, bringing with them various types of animals. That was the 
legend, and A. J. Splawn, early settler and noted authority on the 
Yakimas, marked the spot where they landed. It was north of the Ya- 
kima River on the side of the foothills where there is an oval-shaped 
spur resembling an inverted canoe. 

The Indians lived on the ridges surrounding those lakes. They had 
difficulty with their food supply. Wishpoosh, a giant beaver, was 
abroad in the land. He took possession of the lakes north of Yakima. 
He was a vicious monster. He molested and devoured every living 
thing that passed his way. He was so dangerous that the people could 
not fish the lakes. 

When Coyote came to this region he found the people in the 
midst of plenty of uncaught fish and on the verge of famine. So he 
decided to help them by destroying Wishpoosh. He took a strong 
spear and lashed it on his arm. He then went hunting for Wishpoosh. 
He found him asleep by the shore of the lake north of Yakima and at 
once drove the spear deep into his body. Wishpoosh, enraged, dived 
into the lake and went to the bottom, taking Coyote with him. There 
began a struggle for life or death between these powerful gods. 

They plunged through the lake, tearing a gap in the foothills to the 
south. They went from lake to lake, crashing against ridge after ridge. 
Through the gaps they created, the whole region was drained of 

There are geologic facts that may be the roots from which some 
of these legends have stemmed. The first land of the Far West was 
the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon and the Siskiyous of southern 
Oregon and northern California. They started to emerge during the 
long Cretaceous period, from about 60 million to 70 million years ago, 
when most of Europe was still under the sea. Then came the Rockies 
and the Cascades. Before the end of the Cretaceous period the 
Cascades had become a dike, shutting out the ocean and creating a 
great inland sea that washed the western slopes of the Rockies and 
later was divided into a series of vast lakes. By the beginning of the 


Tertiary period, the Cascades had not reached an elevation sufficient 
to exclude the warm, moist air from the Pacific. The Gulf of Mexico 
reached far to the north. Moreover, much of Alaska was probably 
then under water, making it possible for the Japanese current to 
flow northeast to Greenland and eliminate all snow and ice between 
the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic Ocean. These great inland areas 
were thus subtropical. There the palm tree and sequoia flourished; 
there the rhinoceros and saber-toothed tiger roamed. 

But the Cascades did not remain a dike. They continued to emerge 
from the sea, casting off the sand and mud of the ocean bed, and 
reached an elevation that cut off the moisture of the ocean from the 
interior. The Alaska range pushed its backbone above the waters and 
shut off the Japanese current from the northern reaches of the con 
tinent. The interior country changed in climate, fauna, and flora. As 
folds of the earth rose and tilted, lakes were tipped like huge sauce 
pans and emptied of their waters. Hot, molten lava overran others 
and destroyed them. Then came a new series of lakes. This was in 
Pleistocene time, about a million and a half years ago. For some rea 
son not fully understood, water backed up along the Columbia and 
its tributaries and formed large fresh-water lakes. Water rose to about 
1250 feet above sea level. 

Probably the greatest of these was Lewis Lake, which lay in the 
Yakima Valley and reached far to the south and west. Icebergs that 
floated on it carried a cargo of boulders of granite, gneiss, and basalt 
and dropped them hither and yon across the valley. The herds of 
horses and camels that had inhabited the area were driven south by 
the cold. The mastodon, mammoth, mylodon, and broad-faced ox 
appeared. When the glaciers receded, great floods occurred. These 
floods followed the channels that had been dug in preglacial days and 
accelerated the creation of the drainage system of the Columbia. 
The vast region drained by the Columbia was spotted with a whole 
series of lakes, rimmed by foothills and ridges like those surrounding 
Yakima. These lakes became connected by drainage links from one to 
another, until they all finally linked up into one continuous stream 


that wore it? way to the ocean through all barriers, including the 
Cascades. Thus was the mighty Columbia River created. 

The Yakima had the same kind of origin, though it grew on a 
lesser scale. It, too, wore through ridges separating various lakes and 
linked them into one drainage system. Most rivers run around moun 
tains or follow the contours of their base. But the Yakima was un 
orthodox like the Columbia, it went cross-country, cutting through 
at least seven ridges or foothills as it reached out serpentine fashion 
to join the Columbia at Pasco. 

The reason for this, geologists say, is that the surface movements of 
the hills, beginning in Pliocene time, and the erosive action of the 
water apparently were closely synchronized. The uplift of the ridges 
was so slow that the water was able to keep its spillways open and 
wear away the rock as fast as it rose in the channels. 

When the region was drained, the hot, dry breath of the desert 
touched the land and parched it. The sagebrush appeared, perhaps 
from some airway of the world, and covered the land in a gray-green 
blanket. Wind and water and frost began a process of erosion that 
exposed the dark lava. It broke through the garment of topsoil that 
had covered it and disclosed patches of its black body throughout the 
farthest reaches of this desert land. 

There are two early trips to the foothills that stand out specially in 
my memory. One was in early spring. I had left town before dusk and 
climbed the barren ridge west of Selah Gap. On the way up I had 
crossed a draw and caught the sweet odor of the mockorange. The 
species around Yakima is Phihdelphus lewisii, discovered in 1806 by 
Lewis and Clark and named in honor of Lewis. It is the state flower 
of Idaho. It has four or five cream-white petals with a golden center 
of bright yellow stamens. Elk and deer browse it. The Indians used its 
slender shoots for arrow shafts, hence its other name, Indian arrow- 
wood. In the darkness I could vaguely see the lone shrub that filled 
this draw with the fragrance of orange blossoms. It stood six feet high 
and in this barren ravine seemed strangely out of place because of 
the delicacy of its fragrance. 


The night was clear and the moon had just reached the horizon. 
Mount Adams loomed in the west, "high-humped/ as Lewis and 
Clark aptly described it when they saw it on April 2, 1806. Along the 
ridge of the Cascades to the north was Mount Rainier, cold, aloof, 
and forbidding. Below at my feet the lights of the town had come 
on, blinking like stars of a minor firmament. A faint streak of light, 
sparkling in the moonlight, marked the course of the Yakima as it 
wound its way across the valley, through dark splotches of sumac, 
cottonwood, and willow. 

Above the dark rim of the foothills were the stars of the universe. 
They were the same stars that saw these valleys and hills and moun 
tains rise from the murk of the ocean, reaching for the sun. They saw 
the Columbia lava, hot and steaming, pour in molten form across this 
land again and again, scorching to cinders everything it touched, bury 
ing great ponderosa pine four and five feet thick under its deep folds, 
and filling the sky with smoke that finally drew a curtain over the sun. 
They saw a subtropical land touched by the chill of the Arctic and 
rimmed with ice and snow. They saw the mighty Columbia and the 
Yakima grow from driblets to minor drainage canals to great rivers. 
They saw the glaciers recede and floods come. After the floods they 
saw the emergence of a desert that some unseen hand had sown with 
fragrant sage and populated with coyotes, rabbits, kangaroo rats, sage 
hens, sage sparrows, desert sparrows, bluebirds, and doves. They saw 
the Indians first appear on the horizon to the north, spreading out to 
all parts of the continent in their long trek from Asia. And thousands 
of years later they saw some newcomers arrive, the ones that fought, 
quarreled, and loved, the ones that built houses and roads and planted 
orchards, the ones that erected spires and lifted their eyes to the sky 
in prayer. 

On the foothills that night I think I got my first sense of Time. I 
began to appreciate some of the lessons that geology taught. In the 
great parade of events that this region unfolded, man was indeed 
insignificant. He appeared under this firmament only briefly and then 
disappeared. His transit was indeed too short for geological time to 

As I walked the ridge that evening, I could hear the chinook on 


distant ridges before it reached me. Then it touched the sage at my 
feet and made it sing. It brushed my cheeks, warm and soft. It ran its 
fingers through my hair and rippled away in the darkness. It was a 
friendly wind, friendly to man throughout time. It was beneficent, 
carrying rain to the desert. It was soft, bringing warmth to the body. 
It had almost magical qualities, for it need only lightly touch the 
snow to melt it. 

It became for me that night a measure of the kindliness of the 
universe to man, a token of the hospitality that awaits man when he 
puts foot on this earth. It became for me a promise of the fullness of 
life to him who, instead of shaking his fist at the sky, looks to it for 
health and strength and courage. 

That night I felt at peace. I felt that I was a part of the universe, a 
companion to the friendly chinook that brought the promise of life 
and adventure. That night, I think, there first came to me the germ 
of a philosophy of life: that man s best measure of the universe is in 
his hopes and his dreams, not his fears; that man is a part of a plan, 
only a fraction of which he, perhaps, can ever comprehend. 

The other trip was in April when I walked the ridge north of 
Yakima on a Sunday afternoon. Below me the Yakima Valley was a 
vast garden in bloom. The peach and cherry blossoms were out in all 
their glory. The valley resembled a giant bowl of short-stemmed 
flowers. The pink and white blossoms covered the bottom and sent 
traces of their fragrance even to the ridges. It was a delicately per 
fumed scene. Nature had brought a whole valley to life in a rush, 
changing its color, filling it with the hope of things to come, making 
it pregnant with the bloom of a new crop. 

I looked down, and there in the sage at my feet was a scattering of 
the bitterroot or rockrose. It is a gentle membrane that the Creator 
has fashioned out of dust and made to decorate even places of desola 
tion. It is a low plant with waxy flowers, delicate pink with a rib of 
darker hue. It has a translucent quality that makes it look fragile to 
the touch, as fragile as the gossamer wings of some tropical butterfly. 
It is the state flower of Montana. It was collected by Lewis at the 
mouth of the Lou Lou Fork of the Bitterroot River in Montana. Its 


roots are the spatlum known to Indians, explorers, and early settlers 
as valued food. They do indeed contain a rich supply of starch, and 
when eaten (dried and raw) have that taste. But it is a taste that is 
slightly bitter; hence its name. Its leaves dry up and vanish when the 
flowers appear. And the blossoms open with the sun and close with 
darkness. I never see the bitterroot blooming among the sage without 
feeling that I should take off my hat and stand in adoration at the 
wondrous skill of the Creator. I ll always remember the words of the 
artist who said, "I have grown to feel that there is nothing more 
amazing about a personal God than there is about the blossoming of 
the gorgeous little bitterroot. 77 

A strong wind suddenly came up from the south. It brought the 
dust of Pasco and Prosser on its wings, and produced small flurries of 
petals from the fruit blossoms as it swept across the orchards. Behind 
the wind came dark clouds splattering rain on the Lower Valley. 
With the rain there were forked tongues of lightning that played 
along the ridges across the valley from me; then there was thunder 
that rolled endlessly as it echoed off the hills of the Ahtanum and 
Naches. In a little while the storm veered, turned east over Moxee, 
and slowly melted away on the eastern horizon. The sun appeared and 
the flowering basin of the valley once more lay in splendor below me. 

To the west Adams and Rainier stood forth in power and beauty 
monarchs of every peak in their range. The backbone of the Cascades 
was clear against the western sky, its slopes and ravines dark blue in 
the afternoon sun. The distant ridges and canyons seemed soft and 
friendly. They appeared to hold untold mysteries and to contain soli 
tude many times more profound than that of the barren ridge on 
which I stood. They offered streams and valleys and peaks to explore, 
snow fields and glaciers to conquer, wild animals to know. That after 
noon I felt that they extended me an invitation an invitation to get 
acquainted with them, an invitation to tramp their trails and sleep 
in their high basins. 

My heart filled with joy, for I knew I could accept the invitation. 
I would have legs and lungs equal to it. 

Chapter V Aktamm 

DUTUNG the summer months of the following ten years I made many 
trips into the Washington Cascades. These treks into the mountains 
usually were no mere overnight or week-end jaunts; often they 
would last a week or two or even longer. On these trips I almost al 
ways had companions: Bradley Emery, Elon Gilbert, Douglas Cor- 
pron, or my brother Arthur. We usually went by foot, carrying our 
supplies on our backs. 

In this fashion I hiked through much of the wild country between 
Mount Adams and Mount Rainier on the eastern slopes of the Cas 
cades. I walked most of the trails in that region, climbed most of the 
peaks, explored many of the ridges, fished or looked down into prac 
tically all of the numerous lakes, camped in dozens of the meadows, 
and sampled the trout in almost every stream in that vast watershed. 
But for infantile paralysis I might not have done so. 

Though I usually went by foot with a pack on my back, one of the 
earliest trips and my first one into the beautiful Klickitat Meadows 
was at the same time both more luxurious and more painful. 

One June, Elon and Horace Gilbert and their cousin Gilbert Peck 
were leaving early in the week by horseback for the Klickitat Meadows. 
I had a job picking cherries and could not afford to leave until Satur 
day. So we arranged that they would take the camp outfit, including 
my bedroll, in by pack train and meet me by midafternoon on Satur 
day near the top of Darling Mountain. 

Klickitat means "galloping horse/ and if the word is repeated 
rapidly, it is easy to see why. Its meaning has special significance 
to me because of the experience of this first trip of mine into the 
Klickitat Meadows. 


The shortest route from Yakima is through the Ahtanum. That 
valley has a fast, clear-water stream by the same name, a stream that 
is rich in Indian lore. The Indians had frequented the Ahtanum more 
than they had the Tieton and Naches, for it was closer to the center 
of their ancestral home in the Lower Valley. Here they had fished 
for salmon and entered the Cascades in search of deer. They also 
had scattered their sweat lodges (We-ach) along the banks of the 

Dean Guie in The Tribal Days of the Yakimas calls these sweat 
lodges the most sacred and important of the Yakimas ancient institu 
tions. They were dome-shaped huts, three to five feet high, placed 
close to the water. Usually they were big enough to accommodate two 
sitters. The sweat lodges of men and women ordinarily were separate. 
Hot rocks were placed inside them, the door covered with a blanket, 
and water poured on the hot rocks. The person inside would be 

Sweat lodges were common among the various tribes in the basins 
of the Columbia and the Snake. Lewis and Clark recorded that the 
Indians in the Snake River basin, the Nez Perce, made "great use of 
Swetting" with hot and cold baths. They described one underground 
sweat lodge that had a hole in the top through which hot stones 
would be dropped. Those on the inside "threw on as much water as to 
create the temperature of heat they wished/ The Indians along the 
Columbia used the sweat baths frequently, both in sickness and in 
health and at all seasons of the year. They were particularly helpful in 
treatment of rheumatism, which was prevalent among these Indians. 

The legend was that such sweat lodges were decreed by the Spirit 
Chief who, acting through Coyote, showed the Yakimas how to use 
them. They were places to bathe; but they were more than that. They 
were also places of prayer, for those who were sick and for those whose 
dreams had not come true. Medicine men renewed their "medicine" 
inside these huts; when one died, his sweat lodge was burned. Here 
evil spells were banished, aching limbs relieved, and illness cured. 
After each bath the bather usually would run to the river and jump 
in. The treatment was said to be particularly good for pneumonia. 


But according to A. J. Splawn, famous authority on the Yakimas, the 
sweat lodge was no cure when the terrible scourge of smallpox swept 
through the tribe in 1836. 

I, like most of the other youngsters, stayed clear of the sweat 
lodges. They were places so involved in magic and mystery as to 
be avoided. I thought that harm might come to one who molested 
them; perhaps he would run the risk of a curse. Moreover, it was 
legendary that Indians and fleas were closely associated. The talk was 
that the Indians moved their fishing camps along the Columbia to rid 
themselves of fleas. Lewis and Clark had, indeed, been plagued with 
fleas from eastern Oregon to Astoria. Every Indian visiting them had 
left fleas behind. Hours would be spent by the members of that ex 
pedition trying to pick fleas out of their clothes. The history of the 
region was full of this talk. The sweat lodge, being a place where fleas 
were deposited, was a place to avoid. But the fact that the sweat 
lodges were untouchable added mystery to the Ahtanum, where they 
were numerous. 

The Ahtanum was an historic area in other respects also. On a green 
meadow on the banks of the river stands St. Joseph s Mission. This 
was established by the Oblate Fathers in October, 1847. It was burned 
in 1855 and rebuilt in 1867. It is made of logs, hand-hewn by skilled 
and faithful hands. It stands on the edge of an apple orchard planted 
in 1849, whose trees were still bearing fruit in 1949. 

The Fathers who established the mission were the first white men 
to settle in the valley. They raised the Cross in what was then one of 
the most remote parts of the country. There was little to relieve the 
monotony and dreariness of the spot. There were, to be sure, scrub 
oak, cottonwood, and willow along the banks of the Ahtanum, bunch- 
grass in the valley, and the dark green of the Cascades to the west. 
But on three sides there were dusty hills covered with sagebrush and 
a vast expanse of desert. Yet here on the edge of an empty, barren 
land they built a temple of "adobe clay plastered upon a frame of 
sticks," as Theodore Winthrop described it in Canoe and Saddle. He 
visited it in 1853 when he crossed the Cascades from the west, 


traversed the western edge of the Yakima Valley, and then returned 
to the Old Oregon Trail at The Dalles. 

He came up to it at sunset and found a service being held. Though 
the chapel was only a rude one of clay, it had about it "a sense of the 
Divine presence/ a presence "not less than in many dim old cathe 
drals, far away, where earlier sunset had called worshippers of other 
race and tongue to breathe the same thanksgiving and the same heart 
felt prayer." No service ever seemed more beautiful and moving to 
him. He wrote, "never in any temple of that ancient faith, where 
prayer has made its home for centuries, has prayer seemed so mighty, 
worship so near the ear of God, as vespers here at this rough shrine in 
the lonely Valley of the Atinam." 

The road up the Ahtanum leading to the trails that crossed over 
Darling Mountain went by this mission. I never passed it without a 
feeling of respect and reverence for the men who came to that remote 
spot in order to bring the message of their faith to the Yakimas. 

I wished that I could have known the men who picked this lonely 
place for their temple. I often wondered what their experiences with 
the Indians had been, and how big the salmon and trout were when 
they lived there. And in later years I wondered if they too had come 
to love the sagebrush and lava rock. I wondered if they too had been 
thrilled by the touch of the chinook on their cheeks. I wondered if 
that wind had helped relieve them of the lonesomeness of this 
desolate place. 

On this Saturday in June when I went to meet Elon on Darling 
Mountain, I left Yakima in the early morning. I went by stage through 
Wiley City to Tampico twenty miles up the Ahtanum. Great fields of 
hops and grain lay on each side of the road as we left Wiley City. We 
went by the mission on our left and then on our right passed under a 
cliff that lies close to the river. It s called the Narrows and is a wall of 
basalt formed of large columns standing on end. 

Tampico, with its general store, is a trading center for a vast cattle 
country. Some seven miles west of Tampico is Soda Springs, where 


my trail began. A dirt road leads there. On other trips I would often 
catch a ride out of Tampico. This day I had to walk. 

I was without a pack to carry, so I settled down to four or five miles 
an hour. It was good to take long steps and feel the stretching of 
muscles at the back of my knees. It was good to keep the rhythm of 
the walk, never losing for a second the cadence of the swinging pace. 

There were fields of blue chickory and asters in the vicinity 
of Tampico. Here were scatterings of Pteryxia Calif ornica, with 
its dusty yellow flowers arranged in flat-topped clusters. And on 
every hand along the road was the ever present yarrow. Some Indians 
placed this plant inside salmon to promote the curing process while 
the fish were being dried. Folklore has given it dozens of uses, from 
the making of beer to the curing of toothaches. It bears the name 
of Achilles, who used it to cure the wounds of his soldiers at the siege 
of Troy. It has been generously scattered all over the eastern slopes of 
the Cascades. 

Not far from Tampico were scatterings of the ponderosa pine, the 
big yellow pine that grows to tremendous heights on the lower reaches 
of the eastern slopes of the Cascades, the pine that lumbermen like. 
Soon the ponderosa pine began to be more abundant, thinning out 
the white oak and cottonwood, until higher in the canyon it finally 
left them behind. 

In less than two hours I came to Soda Springs. Here in a grove of 
pine and green grass is a bubbling soda spring. I had associated soda 
water with drugstore counters where sweet, cold drinks could be had. 
So I made at once for the spring in the grove. I found an old tin cup 
on the grass, dipped myself a full measure of the water, and started to 
gulp it down. It was bitter, sulfurous water which I spit out at once. 
"Medicine," I muttered in disgust, as it brought back unpleasant 
memories of the sulfur compound Mother concocted each spring. 

I did not tarry long in the cool ponderosa grove. The easy part of 
the hike was behind me. I had about ten miles to go before I met 
Elon. That distance was by a trail that climbed a few thousand feet, 

The North Fork of the Ahtanum splits off at Tampico. I had fol 
lowed it to Soda Springs. Beyond Soda Springs a mile or so, the 


Middle Fork branches off to the south, dividing the North Fork. It 
was that fork that the old trail, like the present road, followed. 

When I left the road at Soda Springs, I was at once in a deep 
forest that no ax had ever touched. Great yellow pine reached to the 
sky one hundred, two hundred feet. This was the dry, eastern slope 
of the Cascades. There was little underbrush; the woods were open, 
not dense. The sun came streaming in, as if it were pouring through 
long narrow windows high in a cathedral. The soft notes of some bird 
a thrush, I believe came floating down from the treetops. As I 
listened it was as though the music came from another world. 

I had not gone a quarter-mile until I felt the solitude of the moun 
tains. I had been in them before; but this was the first time I had 
been alone. This was the first time I had felt the full impact of their 

It was so silent I could almost hear my heart beat. No moving thing 
was in sight. The quiet was so deep that the breaking of a twig under 
foot was startling. I was alone, yet I felt that dozens of animals must 
be aware of my presence and watching me hawks, flycatchers, hum 
mingbirds, camp robbers, bear, cougar, deer, porcupine, squirrels. But 
when I looked I could see nothing but trees and sky. 

Then I became aware of the fragrance of the trees. The ponderosa 
pine towered over all the others. But I began to see the scatterings of 
other conifers: black pine and whitebark pine, white and red fir, and 
the tamarack or larch. I stopped, looked up, and breathed deep. Then 
I realized I was experiencing a great healing. 

In Yakima I had been suffering from hay fever. Now it was gone. 
My nose wasn t stuffy. My eyes were clearing. I breathed deeply of 
the fragrant air again and again, as I lifted my face to the treetops. 
And I realized what had happened. I had lost my allergy. 

I had been hurrying, tense and strained. I was alone and on my 
own in unexplored land. I was conscious of being exposed to all the 
dangers of the woods, a prey for any predator hunting man. But now, 
strangely, that apprehension fell from me like ashes touched by a 
wind. I suddenly felt that these pine and fir that greeted the Fathers 
of the Ahtanum Mission in 1847 were here to welcome me, too. These 


trees were friends silent, dignified, and "beneficent friends. They 
were kindly like the chinook. They promised as much help and solace 
to me as had the sagebrush and lava rock. 

I felt a warm glow of peace spread over me. I was at ease in this 
unknown wilderness. I, who had never set foot on this particular trail, 
who had never crossed the high ridge where I was headed, felt at 
home. One who is among friends, I thought, has no need to be afraid. 

Then there was a roar subdued and muffled at first, and then as 
loud as a great cataract. A wind had sprung up from the northwest. 
It swept the mountainside and set up a steady vibration in the tree- 
tops. I saw great pine and fir bowing before their master, swaying in 
the high wind. And as they swayed, their groans and creaks swelled 
into violence. A tremendous symphony had broken the quiet of the 
forest. I leaned against the trunk of a yellow pine that reached 150 
or 200 feet into the sky. It towered over all the trees in the canyon. As 
I watched its top weaving back and forth in the gale that swept off 
Darling Mountain, it seemed to be a graceful partner of the wind. 
Had not the pine in fact been mistress of Boreas the wind from 
ancient days? The symphony that was being played was indeed the 
first music of the universe. It had been carried on the wings of this 
wind long before the Indians arrived from Asia, long before man 
walked the earth. The music of the wind in the trees brought mes 
sages floating down millions of years of time. It sang of the eternity 
of the universe, of the transient nature of man. 

It was about nine miles to Cultus Hole; the trail had an easy grade; 
and I do not think I took three hours to reach it. Cultus Hole is a 
basin carved out of the mountainside just below the eastern shoulder 
of Darling Mountain. I stopped here for rest about noon and ate the 
sandwiches Mother had made for me that morning. The meadow of 
Cultus Hole was ablaze with blue lupine. There was also rich paint 
brush that had been dipped in some lively pot of cerise or terra cotta. 
And there were splotches of blue and yellow of flowers with which 
I had not yet become acquainted. I lay down on my stomach and 
drank deep of cold water running from unseen snowbanks in ravines 
somewhere above me. For two hours or so I had been in the deep 


woods, unable to see any horizon. Now I could tell where I was. 
Below me to the east the Ahtanum was beginning to drop away fast. 
The contour of an opposite ridge was starting to take shape. Ahead 
of me was a pitch of hillside that promised a stiff climb to the top. 

The trail rose sharply in a series of short cutbacks. It weaved around 
giant tamaracks that were standing on this ridge even before the First 
Congress met. Here were whitebark pine that knew America long 
before Jefferson and Lewis and Clark. 

This was hard going and I took my time, stopping every dozen 
steps or so. It was perhaps a mile to the top, which I covered in about 
30 minutes. I was ahead of time for the rendezvous with Elon. 

This saddle on Darling is partially open, with scattered clumps of 
trees. As a result Mount Adams loomed up right in front of me before 
I had gone far in a westerly direction. To its left was Mount Hood; 
to its right was Mount St. Helens. Stretching away to the northwest 
were the rugged Goat Rocks, their dark basalt cliffs streaked with 
snow. One comes upon this view so suddenly that it is breathtaking 
no matter how often he walks the trail. These snow-capped peaks are 
so close it seems they can be touched. They rise so abruptly, tower so 
high, and are so majestic that they appear to belong to another world. 

This day I sat down on a rock to wait for Elon. Before me were 
Hood, Adams, and St. Helens mountains that once had been peo 
ple, according to Indian legend. Adams had been Klickitat, a chief 
who ruled north of the Columbia. Wyeast, a younger brother, ruled 
to the south. They had quarreled over Loowit, the immortal and 
beautiful vestal virgin who kept the fire going on the Bridge of the 
Gods a natural bridge that once stood a short distance upstream 
from where Bonneville Dam now stands. Tyhee, the Great Father, 
tired of the quarreling, and to settle it took drastic measures. He 
turned Klickitat into Adams and Wyeast into Hood. He put Loowit 
north of the Columbia and west of Adams and turned her into St. 

This fantasy of the Indian legend occupied me until I was aroused 
by the pounding of hoofs. My three friends appeared in a rush, with 
whoops and hollers, on horseback and leading a horse for me. There 


were shouts of greetings, a short account of my trip, a description of 
plans that had been arranged, and then we were off . 

I had driven horses in the orchards, and I had ridden workhorses 
bareback from field to bam; but I had never been in the saddle. I 
hardly had my feet in the stirrups and the reins in my hand before my 
young friends were headed for camp four miles distant on the Klick- 
itat Meadows. 

They rode like uncivilized Indians on the dead run. There was no 
more holding my horse than turning the tide. He was not to be denied 
the companionship of the other horses or the prospect of early grazing 
in the lush Klickitat Meadows. The first half-mile led through willow 
and aspen and low-hanging fir. I lost my hat and almost my neck from 
overhanging branches. 

On a swerve in the trail on a downhill pitch, I lost my stirrups. I 
regained them only to lose them again and again. But I never let go 
the reins or the horn. I "pulled leather" all the way. I had no con 
trol whatever of the horse. 

It was a gentle downhill slope, which my horse took on a dead run. 
As he raced on and on in his mad way, I bounced to the rhythm of 
his pounding hoofs. He raced like a demon through a stand of giant 
tamarack and into a sizable grove of aspen. The leaves of the aspen 
trembled and shook as if they were cymbals in the hands of some 
weird dancer. Those who had preceded us in earlier years had carved 
their initials and the dates of their journeys into the white bark of 
these trees. Those cuts had healed leaving dark scars. Those scars 
combined with the natural dark splotches on the trunks of the aspens 
took fantastic forms. They formed faces grotesque and distorted. 
They are leering at me/ 7 I thought. They are laughing laughing 
at my bouncing/ And as I raced by, bouncing in the saddle, the quiv 
ering of the leaves of the aspen, the laughter of their scarred trunks 
made it seem as if the trees themselves were twisting and weaving in 
some strange dance of a dervish. 

I beat the saddle incessantly as I bounced up and down. I bounced 
so hard I jarred my teeth. I bounced so hard I was constantly winded. 


I could not have yelled a command to the fleeing Indians had I been 
in earshot and had my life depended on it. 

And then there was the pain in my legs. The legs that I had thought 
were getting strong and hardy had collapsed on me. Sick and puny? 
Legs like pipestems? Not as strong as other boys? Those were ques 
tions that pounded in my head. This was prophecy come true. The 
shooting pain in my legs was not imagination. No one was shouting at 
me derisively about them. Now my weakness appeared in a tangible 
form. In only a few minute my legs had crumbled. 

Through history books I had read of tyrants putting men on the 
rack for torture. Maybe this was it, the rack with all its promise of 
anguish fulfilled. I later learned that the hips, the knees, and the 
ankles are all springs which when rightly used make the saddle as 
comfortable as an armchair. But there was no co-ordination among 
the springs that day. Indeed, the springs were not functioning; they 
were out of order. 

The hips were the first to go; they froze in excruciating pain. Each 
lunge of the horse made it seem as if the muscles in the hips were 
being torn asunder. I felt like a man who was being quartered. The 
pain shot down the leg to the knee. The knees and the ankles ached 
under the hammering from the saddle. Each movement of the horse 
was like a knife thrust in the thigh. There was no relief. On and on 
we went, through patches of willow where the branches raced across 
the cheek, cutting hard into the skin. 

On and on my horse raced, like a demon through a wilderness. 
Shortly we came to Cuitan Creek, a yard or so wide with a dark lava 
bottom. He vaulted this as if he were winged, landed on the other 
side, and kept on going at his terrible pace without missing a beat. He 
galloped recklessly through rock fields. Then he started to scrape the 
trees as if to be rid of his helpless, frightened rider. 

The "whoas" had long ceased. I was silent and grim. For me the 
problem was one of survival. Leaving the horse in safety by my own 
volition was out of the question. My legs were paralyzed. I could not 
have dismounted by myself had the horse been standing still. To 
fall under these pounding hoofs was a frightful thought, but even 


more frightful was the thought of losing face before my pals. "You 
couldn t take it, eh?" Or darker thoughts never uttered, "Maybe the 
guy should have stayed home. Let s not have him the next time/ 

We soon came to Coyote Creek, where later I caught eight- and 
ten-inch cutthroat and rainbow. This creek, with its dark lava bot 
tom, is eight or ten feet wide. My horse would not be denied. He 
jumped that too, hurling me against the cantle as he left the ground 
and then pitching me against the horn as he landed. I hung on, 
though I did not recover from the shock. Then the demon ran uphill 
the remaining 200 yards to the meadows, almost tossing me over his 
rear as he lurched frantically up the side of the ravine. 

How I hung on I never knew, but hang on I did. It was not over 
twenty minutes, I suppose (though it seemed an eternity), from the 
time we started until we reached the meadows. Then we shot through 
a grove of fir and were at the edge of a beautiful expanse of green 
grass, a half-mile wide and a mile and a half long. "It s all over," I 
thought. "I finally made it." 

Not so. We were at the meadows; but off to the left I saw the dis 
appearing tail of Elon s horse. The gang was heading for another 
camping place. So on we went, at a dead run, for another half-mile, 
my anguish increased by the respite that had come so close but yet 
been denied. 

At last I saw the camp. It was at the junction of Coyote Creek 
and the Little Klickitat near the lower end of the Meadows. As my 
horse slowed to a trot and then to a walk, I became as nonchalant as 
I knew how. Easing him over to a high rock, I stepped gingerly out of 
the saddle. I stood there regaining my poise as we bantered back and 
forth. I was so lame I could hardly walk; and that lameness I could 
not conceal. But even cowboys limp, and my limping did not cause 
me to fall from grace. 

My legs, however, ached and trembled. They seemed paralyzed, 
and I wondered if the old trouble had returned. The answer was not 
long coining. For I wiggled my toes and knew at once that I was all 
right. But could I walk? Would any one laugh? 

Yet those worries were overshadowed by one that was even more 


serious. My posterior was in a most painful condition. I could not 
conceal it much longer. The four-mile gallop had worn raw spots on 
my buttocks raw, burning spots that clung to my trousers. I needed 
medical attention badly. I announced the fact. While my announce 
ment produced great merriment, there was no ridicule. I was a casualty 
and some casualties were expected. 

Off came my trousers for an inspection. The decision was that I 
was to lie on my stomach and receive medication. A large rock, as 
big as a grand piano, stands near the junction of the two creeks. On 
that rock I lay while my three youthful pals gleefully attended to my 
wounds and in due course patched me up in commendable style. 

I remember that we had a wonderful supper that night. We also 
had a big campfire in the open grassy flat that lies in between the 
mouths of the Little Klickitat and Coyote Creek. There were delica 
cies from home, cookies and cake. The food came horseback too, so 
there was no stinting. 

The sixteen-mile hike and the four-mile gallop had made me very 
hungry. I ate my fill and excused myself from kitchen duty that night, 
promising to do double duty the next day. I was sore and weary and 
tired beyond compare. My legs were so lame they ached. 

I put my bedroll down on the grass by the Little Klickitat. As I 
slipped between the blankets, Elon came over to me. He was of 
slight build and not more than five feet six. His hair was brown, his 
eyes hazel. He always had a cheerful word for everyone. He took 
pains to see that his companions were comfortable. He seemed to 
find joy in doing little things for his friends. Then his eyes would 
dance and a note of tenderness would come into his voice. This 
night he leaned down close to me and quietly said, "Say, fella, you re 
OK. You sure can go it the hard way. 7 

I swallowed a lump in my throat and murmured thanks. Pride 
swelled in my heart as I lay for a moment looking at the myriad stars 
that hung so close to earth it seemed they could be touched. The 
Little Klickitat sang softly to me. I went to sleep triumphant. Those 
whose opinion I valued more highly than any on earth had rendered 
their verdict. 

Chapter VI Indian Flat 25 Miles 

IT WAS late afternoon on a clear August day. My brother Art and I 
were walking with packs on our backs on the high ridge west of 
Cougar Lake. We were en route from Fish Lake to Dewey Lake. We 
were on what is now known as the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from 
Canada to Mexico. 

We had camped the night before at Fish Lake, which is the head 
of the Bumping River and 1 3 miles from the dam at Bumping Lake. 
There we made our beds of white fir boughs on a patch of white 
clover next to a prospector s log cabin that had stood for years on the 
northern shore of the lake. We had slept late and had a leisurely 
breakfast. We aimed to make Dewey Lake the next night, which by 
our reckoning was only 11 or 12 miles distant. So there was no need 
for hurry. 

Fish Lake is about a quarter of a mile long and perhaps not over 
75 yards wide. Beavers have built dams at the lower end and turned 
a part of the meadow into marshland. The lake has always seemed 
so narrow when I stood on its shores that I have thought I could 
throw the traditional silver dollar across it. Fish Lake, like Bumping 
Lake, lies close to the divide of the Cascades; hence it s a damp place. 
There is usually a drizzle for a few hours if one stays as long as a 
week end. As a result the mosquito thrives there and lingers longer 
in the summer than in the lower lakes in the Cascades. But there 
are compensations for those discomfitures. 

Fish Lake is an intimate body, like a pond in one s own pasture. 
It lies in a valley not much wider than the lake itself. It s a small 
place, a one-party campground. Rich grass fills the meadow. Three 
kinds of fir surround the lake red, white, and balsam; and there is 
a scattering of cedar among the fir. There are cutthroat trout in the 



lake, and rainbow in Bumping River that runs out of it. The cut 
throat we caught on this trip were 10- and 12-inchers, black spotted. 
They were as brilliant as a sunset when we slipped a forefinger through 
the gills and lifted them from the water. They were fighting fish, next 
to the rainbow in the will to live. Fish Lake was a fertile and pro 
ductive mother. It was rich in algae and insect life. For a small lake 
it produced over the years wonderful specimens of cutthroat. Kitty 
Nelson one day in the years of which I speak caught 16 cutthroat 
there that weighed a total of 20 pounds. 

There has long been a stand of tall snags around the lake. They 
were killed by fire years ago and rise as giant skeletons of supple 
trees that once bowed gracefully before the strong northwest wind. 
Today their beauty is gone. They have none of the moisture that 
marks all life. They absorb none from the earth, and hence they 
offer a good supply of dry wood for the camp. 

At dusk, deer and elk step noiselessly through the woods, scan the 
meadow for their enemies, then tiptoe to the marshy land for food 
and water. 

I have seen the meadow a mass of wild flowers in July. Cinquefoil 
or fivefingers, buttercups, dwarf dandelions, and monkeyflowers for 
yellow; lupine, violets, and asters for blue; strawberry, a species of 
pentstemon, and snapdragon for pink; clover and cottongrass for 
white. An abundance of cottongrass has indeed made the marshy 
land on the far side of the lake look like a miniature cotton field 
transplanted from some rich Texas bottom land. 

This morning the charm of Fish Lake detained us until mid- 

Art and I had been at Fish Lake before. But the country beyond 
it to the west was unknown. We were exploring. From the contour 
map we knew that the trail out of Fish Lake climbed a ridge, but we 
had no notion how steep it was. 

It s an old sheepherder s trail that takes the shortest route to the 
top. There are no switchbacks with an easy grade of 10 or 15 degrees 
on which one can hold a steady pace. The grade of this old trail must 
be around 40 degrees. It rises for 1500 feet or more. That puts the 


ridge which the trail finally reaches around 6000 feet, for Fish Lake 
lies at an elevation of 4650. 

On this August morning it was slow going up the steep pitch. Our 
horseshoe packs that we carried over our shoulders weighed 30 
pounds. We had been out a week; we had come up from the Tieton 
by the Indian Creek Trail and passed through Blankenship Meadows 
and the great plateau at the foot of Tumac Mountain that is dotted 
with dozens of lakes Twin Sisters, Fryingpan, Snow, and others 
too numerous to count. So we were hardened to the trail. But the rise 
out of Fish Lake slowed us. 

The basic secret on such climbs is the breathing. The professional 
mountaineer is an expert. The lungs are the carburetor. As the air 
thins out, and the oxygen decreases and the carbon dioxide accumu 
lates, inhalations and exhalations must increase unless the motor 
is to drop to an idling speed. Above 10,000 feet some breathe five 
times or more for every step they take. The increase in respiration 
varies with the individual. Once the required rate is discovered, co 
ordination between breathing and walking is possible. This takes 
time, patience, and practice. But it turns out the mileage under 

At this time I had not mastered the technique. I climbed the hard 
way. I suspect I practically lunged at the hillside; at least I went in 
spurts, taking a dozen steps or so and then stopping to pant. In this 
way Art and I took almost two hours to master the ridge. 

It was a clear August day with no wind. The horseshoe pack hung 
over my shoulder like a weight of lead, twice as heavy as its 30 
pounds. The sweat welled up under it and rolled down my spine. 
I saw it dripping from Art s nose. Our shirts were wet through. When 
we stopped to get our breath, we bent over and leaned forward toward 
th.e hillside, silent and bowed like beasts of burden. Thus we dropped 
our sweat in the trail s dust and expended ourselves on the mountain 
side, expecting each small shelf above us to be the top. We were ex 
hausted at the true top. There, beside a spring under an ancient 
western hemlock, we dropped our packs and rested. I was proud of 
my legs. They had given me no particular trouble. 


Among the grasses in the damp earth around the spring were scat 
terings of the spring beauty, with its five delicate pink petals. It 
looked like a lost thing in this rugged environment. It was exquisite, 
seeming to belong where tender hands could care for it. But here it 
had weathered the wind and frost and snow of ages, and the ravages 
of man and beasts too. The porcupines dig its roots for food. I have 
admired the porcupine s choice, for these roots are excellent as filling 
for a bread-and-butter sandwich as good as water cress. 

The bearberry or kinnikinnick was also scattered along the ridge 
in thick carpets that held the soil in place. This low shrub, with its 
reddish bark and pink urn-shaped berries, seemed more in place here. 
Perhaps its leathery leaves, which the Indians used for smoking, tan 
ning, and dyeing, gave it a hardier appearance. But whatever the 
reason, it, like all other species of the heather family, seemed at home 
on these rugged ridges. At one time we often mistook the bearberry 
for the low-bush huckleberry before the berries had matured. But 
we learned to leave the berries alone. They are flat and dry to the 
taste. Indians, however, dried them and used them in soups. And 
deer, elk, grouse, and bear are fond of the berries when they mature 
in the fall. 

Art and I lay perhaps a half-hour in our amateur botanical study 
while we rested from the climb. Then we moved along to the west 
toward Dewey Lake. It s easy going. Since there is no substantial gain 
or loss of elevation, a steady pace can be maintained. The trail winds 
in and out along the base of high cliffs that form the backbone of the 
ridge. It works its way through red fir, balsam fir, occasional cedars, 
and western hemlock of giant size. Of all the trees the hemlocks 
dominate the ridge. The sheer cliffs, the towering hemlock, and the 
balsam fir, pointed like spires to the sky, give this ridge a cathedral s 
majesty. That feeling is accentuated by the numerous basins that 
lie on each side of the trail and from whose edges the mountainside 
drops off 1,000 or even 2,000 feet into grim canyons. 

We had gone only a few yards along the top when Mount Rainier 
burst into view, so close it seemed to tower over us. Then the trail 
swung to the eastern slope of the ridge, cutting Rainier from sight. 


In the distance to the east was Bumping Lake, the home of Jack and 
Kitty Nelson. It was a deep blue that afternoon, as friendly and in 
viting as those two delightful hosts of the Cascades. A little farther 
along the eastern slope and directly below us on the right were two 
other lakes. At a later time I camped at the second one on a site 
called Two Lake Camp and heard the elk bugling and the coyote 
yapping at the break of dawn. 

A mile or so farther on is a sheepherder s short cut that takes off 
to the right, crosses the narrow hogback of the ridge, and drops down 
into Cougar Lake at the base of House Mountains. 

Art and I took none of these inviting side trips this August day. 
But we did loiter. We stopped again and again to pick the low-bush 
huckleberries that were at their peak. We had been out a week and 
craved sweets above all else. So from time to time we sat in the 
midst of one of these huckleberry patches and gorged ourselves with 
the sweet fruit. 

The ridge abounds with springs and creeks, at every one of which 
we saw signs of deer. And once we saw fresh bear tracks, six inches 
or more across. Every time the trail swung across the ridge to the 
west so that Mount Rainier came into sight, we stopped to look as 
if we could not get enough. 

The result was that it was soon late afternoon and we were still 
about two and a half or three miles from Dewey Lake. The magic 
charm of the ridge had such a hold on us that we decided to look 
along its narrow backbone for a place to camp; and presently we saw 
a small open shelf of a few acres a short way below us on the left of 
the trail. 

We descended to explore it. We found a spring with clear, cold 
water. The shelf had a carpet made of alpine bunchgrass, heather, 
and moss. Balsam fir, with its needlelike spires, rimmed its edge. 
There was a scattering of dry wood for a campfire. The western rim 
of the shelf dropped off 1000 feet or more in a steep incline to a 
tangle of wilderness. Mount Rainier rose over us. We commanded 
the whole scene as if we were on the roof of a cathedral. No more 


perfect place to camp on a clear August night could ever be found. 
Here we threw off our packs. 

We dug out the spring so that it would be wide and deep enough 
for dipping, knowing that the roily water would settle by the time 
camp was made and we were ready to start supper. We went above 
the trail and dragged down branches and logs for our fire. Only then 
did we unroll our packs. 

We took great pride in these packs. We did not know about ruck 
sacks or pack baskets, so we never used them. Once I tried the pack 
board with the forehead strap ? and once the Nelson pack. But I 
found the horseshoe roll more to my liking. Each would take one- 
half of a canvas pup tent which would serve as the outside cover 
of the roll. Inside would be the blankets (two in each pack) and the 
food. And we designed a method for carrying food that suited our 
needs. We took the inside white cotton bag of a sugar sack, washed 
it, and then had Mother, by stitching it lengthwise, make three bags 
out of one. We d fill these long, narrow, white bags with our food 
supplies. The sacks, when filled, would roll neatly up with the 
blankets. Each end of the roll would be tied with rope, later to be 
used for pitching the pup tent. Then the roll could be slipped over 
the head onto the shoulder. 

We could not pack fresh meat, not only because of its weight but 
because it wouldn t keep. Canned goods, ham, and bacon were too 
heavy to carry. We would, however, take along some bacon-rind for 
grease. We d substitute a vial of saccharin for sugar and thus save 
several pounds. Into one white sack we would put powdered milk; 
into another, beans. We d fill one with flour already mixed with salt 
and baking powder and ready for hot cakes or bread. In another we 
would put oatmeal, cream of wheat, or corn meal. One sack would 
be filled with dried fruit prunes or apples. Another would contain 
packages of coffee, salt, and pepper. Usually we would take along 
some powdered eggs. 

On the outside of our packs would be tied a frying pan, coffee 
pot, and kettle. One of us usually would strap on a revolver; the 


other would carry a hatchet. Each would have a fishing rod and 
matches. Thus equipped, each pack would weigh between 30 and 
60 pounds, depending on the length of the trip planned. 

We also took along a haversack which we alternated in carrying. 
In it were our plates, knives, forks, spoons, lunch, and other items 
we wished to keep readily available. It hung by a shoulder strap on 
the hip opposite from the horseshoe pack. The one who carried it 
was indeed well loaded. 

Art and I had oatmeal, scrambled eggs, bread, and coffee for 
supper, and ended up gnawing on dried prunes for dessert. We did 
not pitch the pup tent that night. There were no trees on the small 
shelf between which we could stretch the ridge rope; and there was 
no threat of inclement weather. 

The sun was setting when supper was over and dishes were done. 
I walked to the edge of the shelf to watch the last light leave the 
cold shoulders of Rainier. The mountain seemed close enough to 
put out my hand and touch. Up, up, up it rose, eight or nine 
thousand feet above me. Its eternal ice fields looked down, threaten 
ing and ominous because of their intimacy. The great, dark shoulders 
of lava rock that crop out among its ice and snow stood stark and 
naked in all their detail mightier than any fortress, bigger than any 
dam or monument that the hands of man could erect. 

Alongside that view I felt as if I were no more than the pint of 
ashes to which some day every man will be reduced. That dust, I 
thought, when scattered on the gargantuan shoulders of Rainier 
would be as insignificant as a handful of sand in an endless ocean. 

It is easy to see the delicate handiwork of the Creator in any 
meadow. But perhaps it takes these startling views to remind us of 
His omnipotence. Perhaps it takes such a view to make us realize 
that vain, cocky, aggressive, selfish man never conquers the mountains 
in spite of all his boasting and bustling and exertion. He conquers 
only himself. 

The sun, which had sprayed the ice and snow of Rainier with the 


colors of the spectrum, had now set. Rainier stood alone in silhouette, 
bleak and gray in the dusk. The mood of the mountain took hold 
of me. 

Why was this peak called Rainier? Its Indian name was Takhoma, 
for one of two wives of an Indian chief. The other wife, Metlako, 
gave birth to a son. Takhoma remained barren. Jealousy grew in 
Takhoma s heart. She resolved to kill the boy. Metlako, learning of 
the plot, left the lodge with her son, like Hagar of old, and would 
not return. The Spirit Chief stepped in and settled the affair by 
turning Takhoma into a mountain. He threw around her shoulders 
a white, cold mantle so that the fires of jealousy would not burst 
forth from her breast. 

There may have been some reason to name Mount Adams after 
John Adams. He was, of course, our second President, and part of 
the tradition of America. But he did not in my view have as much 
claim to it as Klickitat, who, indeed, had been transformed into 
the mountain. Teddy Roosevelt s name would be more fitting than 
Adams , since Roosevelt represented some of the daring and adven 
ture of the west. But Rainier seems greatly out of place. Captain 
George Vancouver chose the name in 1792. It is the name of a British 
admiral, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Vancouver did the same for 
Mount St. Helens. That peak bears the name of the British Ambas 
sador to Spain in 1792. And later in the same year Lt. Broughton 
of Vancouver s expedition named Mount Hood for a British 

None of these men, so honored, ever saw the mountains that bear 
their names. None of them ever set foot on the Cascades. They 
never perspired on these slopes or slept in the high basins on beds 
of fir boughs. They never fished for cutthroat or rainbow in the 
streams or lakes or stalked a deer on the ridges. They never saw the 
delicate Sidalcea on the slopes of Darling Mountain or the fields of 
squawgrass in Blankenship Meadows. These men were total strangers 
to the Cascades and to America as well. 

The Indians had for thousands of years hunted their slopes, drunk 
their ice-cold waters, and lived in their shadows. Yet of all the major 


peaks in the northwest range of the Cascades, only one has retained 
its Indian name. That is Shuksan, the Place of the Storm Wind, 
which is near the Canadian border. 

There were no white fir boughs for our bed that night. They are 
the best for mountain mattresses, because their needles grow out 
from opposite sides only and thus produce flat branches. Jack Nelson 
of Bumping Lake always called them "mule feathers/ Once I asked 
him the reason. 

"Well/ he said, "the best mattresses are stuffed with feathers, 
aren t they? A mattress of white fir boughs is the best in the moun 
tains, isn t it? Well, can you think of any animal that would grow 
feathers like those fir boughs except a mule?" 

The night we were camped on the little shelf looking on Rainier 
we did not seek boughs for our bed. The meadow seemed soft 
enough, and for two tired lads of twelve and sixteen, the ground is 
not so hard as to ruin rest. By the time we turned in, the wind was 
blowing on us from the ice and snow fields of Takhoma. It would 
be a cold night and the heat of a bonfire would be dissipated. So 
we let the campfire die and put rocks and branches on the edges of 
our blankets, throwing the two pieces of the tent over us as a wind 

I slept fitfully. I had thought my legs had stood up well the day 
before. But this night they twitched behind the knees. Moreover, 
the wind never died; and the bed got draughty no matter how we 
arranged the blankets. During the dark hours I was sitting up a dozen 
times, it seemed, tucking them in. Each time, before I settled down 
again, I looked once more at Takhoma a sentinel of the night, a 
mother watching over her brood. 

We naturally were up at the first streak of dawn. Within the hour 
we had breakfast: prunes (which we had put to soak the night 
before), more oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and thick pancake bread, 
which we washed down with strong black coffee. In less than an 
hour, camp was broken, the coals of the fire were out, and we were 
ready for the rest of the trip to Dewey Lake. 

Before we started, we sat down to study our contour map. We 


were in new terrain and we wanted to be certain we did not get off 
onto false trails. As we studied the map, we noticed that we might 
save half a day by a certain short cut. The trail swung down the 
ridge about four miles to Dewey Lake. Our plan had been to sample 
the fishing there and then push on another four or five miles to the 
American River. 

We could see that if we left the trail a half-mile or so ahead and 
plunged down the mountainside to the right, we would pick up one 
of the headwaters of the American River. We would have several 
miles of trackless forest before we hit the trail that leads from Dewey 
Lake to the American River by way of Morse Creek, but we would 
save about six miles. 

We said good-by to Takhoma, shouldered our packs, and headed 
west along the Pacific Crest. In a half-mile or so the trail drops down 
to a small lake on the left which forms the headwaters of Deer 
Creek. It then swings to the eastern edge of the ridge and in a 
quarter-mile comes to a wide meadow on an open hillside. 

The hillside was filled with patches of low-bush huckleberry that 
were heavy with ripe fruit. We dropped our packs and sat on the 
ground and once more ate our fill. Some of the berries were twice as 
big as a pea. We tossed them down by the handful, hungry for the 
sugar that the sunlight had stored in them. We put about a pint in 
our coffee pot, hoping to make sauce for supper and to simulate 
huckleberry cobbler by pouring the sauce over the thick bread which 
we baked in the frying pan. 

The berries were not the only attraction of this open hill. Stubby 
mountain ash was scattered along its edges. Pods of the lovely 
avalanche lily, that blooms almost before the snow uncovers it, lined 
the trail. The purplish pasqueflower or western anemone was in seed, 
its styles turned into oval plumes that looked as soft as silk. There 
were lupine and asters in blue splotches as far as one could see. 
Cinquefoil was scattered in small clumps on all sides. Western 
valerian and knotweed were everywhere. The coarse and ugly helle 
bore, whose root is poisonous but pregnant with magic qualities 
according to Indian lore, laid claim to more than its share of the 


ground. Scotch bluebells, the flowers that Dayton rightly says have 
an "atmosphere of floral aristocracy/ 7 were around, nodding in the 
morning sun with a gracefulness and simplicity that few wild flowers 
have. But the showiest bloom the one that caught the eye was 
the squawgrass. 

My favorite place to see it has always been the Blankenship 
Meadows. Perhaps that is because Blankenship Meadows is one of 
my favorite places in all of the Cascades. When I have stopped on 
its edge I have realized how the early homesteader felt who, coming 
to a rise of land and looking at a rich valley at his feet, knew at once 
he had found a place he wanted to call his home. That is the appeal 
those meadows on the plateau beneath Tumac Mountain have always 
had to me. They are the meadows that clumps of the peaked balsam 
fir decorate with the most striking colonnade effect of any place in 
the Cascades. There are fresh springs among them. In early summer 
a great carpet of flowers extends indefinitely. The squawgrass grows 
in great patches here. Its creamy blossoms make even deeper the 
rich green of the balsam fir. 

The squawgrass is not as thick on the ridge above Fish Lake as 
it is on the lower reaches of the Cascades. But the few scattered 
patches in evidence this August day dominated the scene. This plant, 
which is not a grass, is more typical of the eastern slopes of the 
Cascades than any wild flower except the cinquefoil, lupine, paint 
brush, and phlox. Its stem stands from two to four feet high, shoot 
ing up from a mass of broad, densely tufted leaves. At the top of the 
coarse stem are cream colored, plumlike spikes, shaped into a round 
cone that ends in a nipple. Elk, deer, horses, and cattle seem to like 
it, for as I walk or ride the trails I notice that the blossoms of the 
plant that lie within reach have been nipped off. But the botanists 
say that the plant, like every member of the bunchflower tribe of 
the lily family (including deathcamas, false-hellebore, and hog 
asphodel), is more or less toxic and that squawgrass has caused losses 
of stock. Bears dig up the tuberous roots in early spring and eat 
them. The roots when boiled make soap; hence the secondary names 
of beargrass and soapgrass. 


The height of the stem and the size of the blossom make squaw- 
grass overshadow everything in any meadow. It deserves its name, 
the "Great White Monarch of the Northwest." It is as startlingly 
beautiful in a meadow of the Cascades as dogwood is on Connecti 
cut s hillsides. 

Squawgrass was important in the life of the northwest Indians. 
They carried on a considerable commerce in it up and down the 
Columbia. It is part of the historic produce of the Cascades, Lewis 
and Clark and later David Douglas wrote about it. Clark stopped 
at the mouth of the Yakima in October, 1805, and ate a salmon 
cooked for him by Indians in a basket made of squawgrass. The 
basket was watertight. The water it held was heated by dropping 
in hot stones. That winter Lewis wrote at the mouth of the Columbia 
that the baskets of the Indians "are formed of cedar bark and bear- 
grass so closely interwoven with the fingers that they are watertight, 
without the aid of gum or rosin." And, according to Lewis, these 
baskets were "of different capacities from that of the smallest cup 
to five or six gallons/ The squawgrass baskets served double duty 
for the Indians they were hats as well as cooking utensils and 
buckets. As a result of its great utility in that economy it was given 
the name Xerophyllum tenax, which means "the dry leaf that holds 

Art and I sat in this beautiful mountain garden perhaps an hour. 
Below us was a heavily wooded canyon bounded a few miles on the 
east by another ridge. The ridge we were on ran to the north a mile 
or so and then jutted out into a great elbow. On the far side of the 
elbow was the Rainier Fork of the American River. If we followed the 
stream in the canyon below us until it joined Rainier Fork and then 
followed the American River down to where Morse Creek poured in, 
we would pick up the American River trail. It was apparent that 
our reading of the contour map had been accurate. By going cross 
country we would take the hypotenuse of the triangle and save time 
and mileage. 

The first part of the descent was on a gentle slope. We went down 
through the open hillside where we had tarried so long, pushed 


through stands of mountain ash and Douglas maple, and entered a 
stand of balsam fir. It was perhaps 1500 feet to the bottom of the 
ravine; and once we were in the woods the decline became more 

A man with a pack on his back is like a horse with a rider he 
has an element of unbalance that must be reckoned with in every 
step. Moreover, two or more men working their way off trail down 
a steep mountainside owe a special obligation to keep bunched to 
gether or widely scattered so that rocks loosened by one will not 
come pounding down to kill or maim the other. 

Steep slopes of pinegrass are slippery. One has to dig in his heels 
at every step as he goes downhill. It is hard on the knees; it is 
dangerous, especially with a pack, to go fast. Momentum is easy to 
gain and hard to lose on a mountainside. When one is loaded with 
a pack, loss of balance even for a second can cause disaster. When 
one is afoot with limited food supplies and is several days from 
civilization, a sprained ankle can be a calamity. 

We had slippery pinegrass under us for the first 500 feet or so. 
Below us was a yawning pit, heavily wooded, with occasional out- 
croppings of basalt. For several hundred feet we worked our way 
through shale rock and around cliffs. We came to a field of boulders 
which, loosened perhaps by frost from some high crag, had found 
precarious resting places on this mountainside. We soon wound 
through them and left them high above us as we found more gentle 
slopes below and made faster progress. 

All the way down we saw many fresh bear tracks. These were the 
tracks of black and brown bears, which, though fearless on the attack 
and ever ready to raid a cabin or a tent, are keen-scented animals and 
difficult to approach in the woods. They avoid man wherever possible. 

We saw fir trees whose bark near the ground was almost gone, 
because buck deer had rubbed the velvet from their horns and 
polished them on the tree trunks. Fresh prints of deer were com 
mon as we came closer to the bottom of the ravine. Once I saw a 
black pine whose bark was gone ten or fifteen feet above the ground 
the work of a porcupine who in winter walked along a snowdrift 


and ate the bark as a beaver would circle a tree. And willow trees 
carried the marks of browsing by deer. 

Presently we heard the murmur of the stream that ran down 
the ravine to the Rainier Fork of the American River. We made our 
way to it over down timber and through a thick stand of fir. There 
on a spit of sand we threw down our packs, lay on our stomachs, put 
our faces into the clear, cool water, and drank as young animals. It 
was a fast-water creek running over rocks into clear liquid pools. We 
sat on the sand bar, resting and listening to the murmur of the stream. 
A light wind was in the treetops making them sway and sing. All else 
was quiet. 

I saw on the opposite bank a great mass of Canada dogwood or 
bunchberry. It was only six inches high and covered the bank thickly, 
as ivy does. Its minute flowers encircled by four creamy white, petal- 
like bracts were in bloom and enlivened this damp spot of monot 
onous green. Its edible red berries called pudding berries in New 
England would bring a dash of high color to this spot in the fall. 

There was mixed with the dogwood a host of the pure white alpine 
beauty, a fragile lilylike flower with thin, soft leaves. The two flowers 
together made the stream a place of enchantment. The reward of our 
descent was already great. The loveliness of the Canada dogwood and 
alpine beauty had filled the canyon for centuries. Yet we were prob 
ably the first humans ever to enjoy it. 

We doubtless were in woods never before traversed by man. This 
was the unexplored wilderness no roads, no trails, no blazes, no 
signs. This was domain even far off the beaten path of Indians. This 
forest was primeval, untouched, unseen. Trees fell and in a generation 
or more were turned into duff. New trees sprang from fallen seed, 
reached with their thin tips through a colonnade of evergreens for a 
slit in the sky, pushed lesser trees aside, and in time were reclaimed, 
as man is reclaimed, by Mother Earth. 

The humus at our feet was made in that fashion long before Daniel 
Boone or Lewis and Clark went through trackless forests of their day. 
Long before America was known by Europe, soil had been building in 
this ravine. We probably were its first witnesses. But before us was 


the evidence of the process. One giant Douglas fir was stubbornly re 
sisting its return to dust. It stood here as a sapling when Columbus 
was searching for our shores. The top of its broad trunk still held firm 
above the earth. But the mark of crumbling was on it. 

A trail, like a road, brings a sense of ease and relaxation. Men have 
passed by here before, one says; so all is well. But a journey on foot 
through the untouched wilderness brings different impressions. Man 
is now on his own. No one has gone ahead. This is new, untouched 
domain, full of hazards and dangers. On this trip Art and I looked 
for some visible sign of danger a bear coming through the brush, a 
cougar slinking along the creek bottom, a bobcat lying watchfully on 
an overhanging limb, even a porcupine waddling up a hill. But we 
heard or saw nothing but pine squirrels and chipmunks. The un 
tapped, unexplored wilderness was, as usual, filled with no danger but 
the traveler s apprehension. 

I think I captured, that August morning in this unchartered can 
yon, some of the feeling that Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Jim 
Bridger, and other early travelers must have had in their explorations 
beyond the frontier. Under those circumstances man walks quietly, 
his nerve ends alert to pick up even slight warnings of danger. In that 
environment he returns to primitive man who stealthily walked the 
ridges and traversed the canyons, who hunted and was hunted, and 
yet survived all others to rule the universe. 

We did not tarry long at the creek but pushed on rapidly, avoiding 
thick brush and working our way down to the junction of Rainier 
Fork. We reached that point two hours after leaving the top; and in 
another hour we found the place where Morse Creek joins the Ameri 
can River. We crossed it and shortly came to the trail that led down 
the Naches to home. 

We were now on one of the main trails of the Cascades and could 
make time. But before settling to the hard grind, we took off our 
packs and tightened the ropes. We also removed fine gravel that had 
got into our shoes in our descent. Then we had lunch pieces of pan 
cake bread we had cooked at breakfast and carried in our haversacks, 


what remained of the huckleberries we had carried in the coffee pot 
off the mountain, and cle^r cold water from American River. 

The trail for about a mile below Morse Creek was a dirt road. A 
mining company had extended its road six miles down the west side 
of the Cascades from Chinook Pass. The construction was designed 
as an inducement to Yakima County to bring the road up from the 
junction of American and Bumping rivers. It was called the Normile 
Grade. The day we tramped it nature had practically reclaimed it. It 
was wider than a trail but only a shadow of a road. 

The historic Indian route from Yakima to the coast had been up 
the Little Naches River which joins the American to form the Naches 
about four miles below the mouth of the Bumping River. It was up 
the Little Naches that Captain George B. McClellan looked in vain 
for a pass that would take the Northern Pacific over the Cascades. It 
was down the Little Naches that Theodore Winthrop came in 1853. 
He called it a "harsh defile at best for a trail to pursue/ a canyon of 
"stiff, uncrumbling precipices/ "sombre basalt walls" that were 
"sheer and desperate as suicide" (Canoe and Saddle). 

It was that route that the first wagon train traveled in 1853 from 
Franklin County, Indiana, to Olympia, Washington. David Long- 
mire, an old-tirner in the Yakima Valley, made that trip as a boy. Case 
has told the story in The Last Mountains. This was the first wagon 
trip over the Cascades north of the Columbia. The route was new and 
untried. The party was moving on the edge of winter. On the west 
side they were blocked by cliffs and there was no way down or around. 
So they killed oxen and from the skins made leather ropes. With 
these they lowered their remaining oxen and wagons to safety below. 
They got off the mountain just in time to escape death by starvation 
or exposure. 

Jack Nelson and other old-timers with a faithful eye to history lost 
their fight to have the new highway follow the Little Naches. Long 
after the August day of which I speak the present paved highway was 
constructed. It follows the Normile Grade over Chinook Pass. Years 
later I traveled that highway by motorcar. It is the most picturesque 
of all paved mountain roads, either by sunlight or by moonlight, that 


I have seen. Twenty miles beyond the junction of Bumping and 
American rivers it crosses Chinook Pass. At that point the road is only 
a few miles from Dewey Lake, which lies to the south and which 
was our destination in the trip just described. 

I think a slight resentment filled me as we roared along at 50 miles 
an hour on a trail where as a boy I had plodded so long and hard on 
foot. The inclines up which I strained with my pack in the early 
years meant nothing to those who occupied the car. The streams that 
I had waded, the mud of the marshlands that had sucked at my shoes 
as I sloshed through it, were covered with culverts and bridges and 
so would never have meaning to these hurried travelers. The motorist 
would indeed be going much too fast to get even a glimpse of the 
low patches of the creamy Canada dogwood on a meadow s edge, or 
to see in some shady recess of the woods the dainty rose-colored deer 
orchid or calypso, or to catch in lush meadows of the valley the 
gleam of dark blue larkspur or the flaming hues of the Indian paint 
brush, or to find in grass the exquisite scarlet gilia, shooting-star, or 
dogtooth violet. He certainly would never hear the whir of the grouse 
going through a thicket ahead of him, or get the thrill of coming 
across fresh cougar or bear tracks in a wilderness. Those too soft to 
take to a trail were now whisked along with ease over terrain that, for 
me, should be reserved for the hardy. Those whose progress on a trail 
even without a pack would be slow and painful could now inhale their 
tobacco in a journey freed of all exertion. Thus had the wall of a 
wilderness been leveled and desecration by man made easy! 

These were sentiments I expressed as we whirled along, doing in 
thirty minutes what with extreme exertion I could do as a boy only 
in a day. 

"But aren t there other trails on which young fools can exhaust 
themselves?" my companion dryly asked. Of course there were. And 
this Chinook Pass highway was a special blessing to thousands. Yet a 
slight resentment at its existence lingered on. 

While Art and I were eating lunch at Morse Creek on the Normile 
Grade, I made a secret resolution which was quite unfair to him. I 
had been thinking about my legs. I wondered how strong they really 


were. This was one of several mountain hikes I had been on; and 
each one had been an achievement. I knew my legs were improving. 
The day before they had stood up well under the pull out of Fish 
Lake. Apart from the twitching of the muscles below my knees that 
night, there were no other symptoms. I was stronger each summer. 
But how much stronger, I wondered. 

As I studied the contour map I estimated we had come about ten 
miles that morning. I knew there was an excellent camp ground at 
Indian Flat, two miles below the junction of the American and 
Bumping rivers. From where we sat on the Morse Creek trail that 
was a good fourteen or fifteen miles. 

"I wonder if we can do fifteen miles in three hours/ I said to my 
self. "Certainly we can do it in four." 

Then I made my secret resolution: we would camp at Indian Flat 
that night. 

"We must get going if we are to make camp by dark/ I said to Art. 

It was about two o clock when we headed down the American 
River on the Normile Grade. It was not water-level travel all the way; 
there were ups and downs. But the trail and the short stretch of the 
old road were easy by mountain standards. We had good footgear: 
thick socks, close-fitting shoes more than ankle high, and hobnails. 
So I set the pace at five miles an hour a very fast one even without 
a pack. 

How long I maintained that pace I do not know, probably not 
many minutes. The muscles along my shinbones set up a protest. 
There was a caustic tone in Art s words, "Where s the fire?" The pace 
soon slackened perhaps to three miles an hour. But once that speed 
was set, I tried to hold it all afternoon. We walked until dusk with no 
interruptions except for stops to drink at pools along the river. The 
pace was steady; we never relaxed even for a moment. 

It was a long and weary trail, and dusty, too. Fine dust rose with 
every step and eventually sifted through all our clothes and filled our 
nostrils. There was no breeze; the sun had baked all moisture out of 
the hillside and it bore down on us, hot and stifling. All conversation 
ended. I could hear only the roar of the river, our footsteps, the rattle 


and clanging of the utensils tied on our packs. Mile after mile we 
trudged, looking neither right nor left, alert not to lose by some care 
less step the rhythm of our long stride. I was in the lead; Art kept 
close on my heels. We had gone about six miles when we came to 
Pleasant Valley an excellent camp. 

"Why isn t this OK?" Art asked. 

"There s a better one down the line/ I said. 

So we swung through Pleasant Valley without breaking our walk. 
Then he inquired how much farther we had to go that day. I was 
noncommittal. In another half-mile he asked again. When I dodged a 
reply, he pressed me. 

"Just a few miles/ I answered. As we trudged on, the inquiry 
"How much longer?" became more frequent; the tone of his voice 
more dissatisfied. 

I knew how he felt. A great weariness had overtaken me too. But I 
had made my secret resolution and for me it was do or die. My light- 
hearted responses to the constant question, "How much longer?" 
concealed my own feelings. I too was tired; and it took self-control 
not to be curt and sharp. 

By late afternoon the questions had ceased; we had each got a 
second or third wind and were traveling on some hitherto undiscov 
ered sources of energy. The pack was hanging more heavily than ever 
on my shoulder. A numbness began to creep through my back 
muscles, as if they had received a light injection of some anesthetic. 
As the shadows in the valley lengthened I walked as an automaton. 
My legs seemed more like stilts than part of me. They were almost 
without feeling; and the feet seemed weighted down by heavy clogs. 

I remembered, as we pushed along, a chapter in one of Cooper s 
books. It told of the pursuit of a frontiersman by Indians; how he 
kept his pace all through the heat of the day and finally, by sheer 
endurance, eluded his pursuers in the dusk. My pursuers were the 
lengthening shadows. By dark I would be encompassed; and there 
would be no escape because of my fatigue. Was I too weak to stand 
the pace? 

The pace continued to be a frightful one, though it may have 


dropped to a slow walk. The shin muscles of my legs were aching 
like a tooth with an exposed nerve. A small pain commenced above 
my eyes and soon the pounding of my heels echoed in my head. I 
longed to stop and rest; I wanted to sleep and never move until to 
morrow. But I pushed on. 

After a while the legs and head became impersonal objects, like 
things belonging to someone else. So I went on, my eyes on the trail, 
my head down. My legs were numb. I was almost unaware of my sur 
roundings. On and on, mile after mile. I had to see what my legs 
could do. 

At the junction of American and Bumping rivers we struck the dirt 
road. Two miles to Indian Flat. 

"How about here?" said a tired voice in the rear. 

"Not yet/ I said. On we went, until at dusk Indian Flat loomed 
up as if out of a dream. 

We dropped our packs and lay on them, exhausted. How long we 
stayed there I do not recall. We were aroused by a tantalizing smell 
the smell of bacon, flavored with wood smoke. That raised us to our 
feet. Another party was making camp across the meadow. Our light 
rations always kept us on the edge of hunger on these mountain trips. 
The smell of bacon cooking over an open fire was therefore irresistible. 

It was dark by the time fir boughs were gathered for our beds, and 
wood collected for the fire. We made camp by the edge of a stand of 
white fir and yellow pine. We were far too tired to spend much time 
in cooking. Normally we d have caught a mess of trout for the frying 
pan. But we were much too weary. We were tempted to beg a meal 
from our neighbors, but pride or some standard of independence was 
a barrier. So we cooked our own supper. It was frugal: oatmeal, pan 
cake bread, milk (powdered), and dried prunes. The smell of our 
neighbor s bacon almost made our own food unpalatable and, worse, 
the oatmeal was burned. We ate sparingly in spite of our hunger. 
Then after putting beans to soak for tomorrow s meal, we crawled 
into our bedroll, our hunger whetted rather than satisfied. 

I woke with a splitting headache. I lay for an hour, hoping it would 
cease. But it continued unabated. When I got up and walked about, 


I felt sick at my stomach. The exertion of the day before had con 
tributed to my suffering. But the headache must have been com 
pounded from inner tensions as well as fatigue; for dreams vaguely 
horrible had occupied me in my sleep. All night I had seemed to be 
hunted by some evil pursuers. There were boys my age peering and 
taunting me, and older people watching and nodding their approval. 
I would almost escape the scene and then these pursuers would catch 
up with me and I would be too weak in the knees to get away. 

I lay down on my fir bough bed, too ill to move. Soon my brother, 
whose spirits I had somehow sustained the day before, awakened. 
Even as a youth he was tall and rangy, headed for six feet or more. 
His legs were long and agile. This morning his light brown, almost 
reddish hair, was in a tangled mass. He had slept long and hard. Now 
he was refreshed and hungry as a bear. I was secretly proud of his 
performance, and envious of his strength. He had outdone me. 

He cooked himself a big breakfast, did the dishes, and put the 
beans to boil. I did not feel like eating. The only food I wanted was 
soup. "That s it, tomato soup/ 1 I thought. My longing for it was so 
acute, it became an obsession. We had no soup of any kind. I asked 
my brother if he would try to borrow soup from our neighbors. 

He disappeared and was gone an interminable time. I was at first 
annoyed at his delay, and then anxious for him. It took him an hour 
to return. Then he came, breathless and excited, saying a bull had 
chased him. 

"What did you do?" I asked. 

"I went up a tree/ he said. "That s where I ve been all this time." 
His blue eyes glistened in his excitement. 

"And the soup?" I asked. 

He pulled out from under his shirt a can of tomato soup. He heated 
it, as he told me of the bull that chased him: the roar of the beast, 
the quivering nostrils, the horns, the red eyes, the pawing hoofs. His 
description was so vivid that I too could see the flames coming out of 
the monster s nose. 

I ate the soup every drop of it. And having eaten it, I fell asleep. 


I woke at noon, hungry for beans and heavy food, and ready to push 
on. I was refreshed, and neither stiff nor sore. 

Inwardly I felt a glow because of my achievement. I had walked 25 
miles with a 30-pound pack in one day. My legs had stood up. I had 
conquered my doubts. So far as my legs were concerned, I knew that 
I was now free to roam these mountains at will, to go on foot where 
any man could go, to enter any forest without hesitation. 

Chapter VII Noches 40 Miles 

THE following summer with less premeditation I gave my legs a more 
severe test. One day Brad Emery and I walked more than 40 miles in 
the Cascades with packs on our backs. It was early June just after 
high school was out and before the cherries were ready for picking. 
We took that opportunity to have a week together in the Cascades. 
We went by stage through Wiley City and past the Ahtanum Mission 
and the Narrows to Tampico. There we caught a ride to Soda Springs. 
Then we put the horseshoe packs over our shoulders, took to the 
trail up the North Fork of the Ahtanum, and headed for the Klickitat 
Meadows, 16 miles distant. We planned to camp there that night. 

Not far up the North Fork the old trail divided, the left fork going 
over the southeastern shoulder of Darling Mountain and down to the 
Meadows, the right fork climbing to the very top of Darling. We 
were chatting as we walked along and overlooked the branching of 
the trail. We took the wrong fork, and did not realize it until the in 
creased pitch of the trail in a quarter-mile or so told us of our error. 

We then decided to abide by our mistake. Our contour map 
showed that the trail we were on went over the top of Darling, 
turned north onto Short and Dirty Ridge, and dropped to the South 
Fork of the Tieton not far from the Tieton Basin. The tops of both 
Darling Mountain and Short and Dirty Ridge were new territory for 
both of us. We decided to explore them. We pushed on. Darling 
Mountain stands at 6972 feet, which meant we had close to 3500 feet 
to climb before we reached its peak. The trail at once told us of its 
trials, for it climbed almost without respite. 

Peattie, in Forward the Nation, tells the unforgettable story of Saca- 
jawea, the Indian squaw who helped to guide Lewis and Clark over 



the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. He tells how she worshiped 
mountain flowers which in her words are "the spirits of those children 
whose footsteps have passed from the earth but reappear each spring 
to gladden the pathway of those now living/ The eastern slopes of 
Darling Mountain would bring joy to her heart in the spring and 
summer. Here will be found one of the greatest flowering of plants 
in all the Cascades. 

I have seen on those slopes larger fields of lupine than anywhere 
else acres and acres of lupine, some of it mixed color of blue and 
white, but most of it blue a brilliant mantle covering an entire hill 
side. Mixed in with the lupine but less conspicuous are a great variety 
of pentstemon ? small and large, dwarfed and tall, blue, purple, and 
even rose colored. At various elevations bloom the scarlet gilia or wild 
honeysuckle, delicate as a hothouse orchid; bronze bells or mission 
bells with their adderlike tongues; the Indian hyacinth, pale violet, 
delicately scented; the small, dwarfed saxifrage with its soft white 
flowers and tiny roots which in time can cause great rocks to crumble 
as its name suggests; the low, dark blue larkspur, poisonous to cattle; 
the scarlet trumpets of the tall, graceful columbine offering special 
invitations to the humming birds; the weedy, bright yellow dandelion; 
the yellow arnica with its drugstore smell; blue Jacobs-ladder with a 
yellow throat; the blue gentian that Gentius, King of Illyria, found 
to be useful in medicine; the sego-lily or cats-ears, whose petals are 
like satin on the outside and hairy like a kitten s on the inside; the 
pollen-laden tiger lily, its rich orange spotted with brown; Bishop s- 
cap, whose petals remind Haskins of "five-pointed, translucent green 
snowflakes"; western wallflower, whose clinging quality and whose 
habit of flowering all summer long have made it from ancient days a 
symbol of femininity; St. Johns wort, whose spots are supposed to 
show on the day when St. John was beheaded; wild candytuft, louse- 
wort, duck bill, fleabane, goat chickory, Bahia, wooly yellow daisy, 
Fendler s Arabis, Eriogonum, cinquefoil, paintbrush, cowherbs, 
pussy-paws, western valerian, deep blue monkshood, sage mint, knot 
weed, and a host of others. I believe that a Peattie or Dayton between 


May and August could indeed find all the wild flowers of the Cas 
cades on Darling s eastern slopes. 

The one I found that I liked best was the Oregon mallow or Sidal- 
cea. It flourishes there in the bunchgrass. It s a wild hollyhock from 
one to two feet tall, with miniature petals of pink. The petals have a 
fragile, translucent look. The flower is sparing with its loveliness, 
opening only a few petals at a time and saving some of its delicate 
beauty for those who will travel the trail later in the season. Even in 
the wilds there is a touch of domesticity about the Sidalcea. It carries 
me back to barnyard fences, garages, back porches, and garden walls 
where the hollyhock has been part of my life. There is a suggestion 
about it, as it leans to one side on Darling s slopes and bends before 
a light breeze, that it would like to be reclaimed and live with people 
in yards and gardens. It does indeed transplant easily and thrives 
under cultivation. 

Brad and I left most of the wild flowers behind us when we started 
up the steep trail. It was a late season. We had supposed that the 
soft chinook had melted the snow that powdered Darling Mountain 
in great drifts during the winter; but we soon discovered we were 
wrong. There was a lot of snow in the ravines and under the trees; 
the trail was still damp with its moisture; and the air was chill as if 
it were coming out of the open door of a cold-storage plant. It was 
like raw March and April weather. The warmth of the lava rock and 
sagebrush hills in the valley had not yet reached these slopes. Patches 
of snow soon appeared in the trail; and it was not long before our 
shoes were wet through. But it was good weather for exertion. We 
climbed the 3500 feet with our 30-pound packs with hardly a stop. 

We were greatly discouraged because of the snow; and we 
grumbled about it as we climbed. It meant wet ground for camping, 
poor fishing, and restricted hiking. But it offered advantages too. This 
was the first time that I had seen the glorious avalanche lily. This day I 
saw its tender shoots coming up right on the edge of the snow, some 
times even through a thin layer of snow. And then within a few feet 
or even inches of a snowdrift would be the delicate flower itself. 


Its an Erythronium, clear white with an orange center, the flowers 
two or three inches across. Alpine basins will produce whole acres of 
this dainty flower. I have seen great meadows on the shoulders of 
Rainier and Hood filled with it. That sight is breath-taking. But even 
small patches of it under high rock cliffs, on open slopes, or at the 
edge of great snowbanks, have the same effect on me. And they al 
ways bring me to a reverent halt. The size of the flower, the delicacy 
of its texture, the gracefulness of its stance, make it one of the most 
wondrous of all the creations of nature. It never ceases to be startling 
to find something so exquisitely beautiful and delicate growing in the 
raw, cold atmosphere of a snowdrift. 

The avalanche lily has more than my adoration; it also commands a 
great respect. For this flower spurns the lowlands. It does not survive 
transplanting. Unlike its cousin of golden hue, the glacier lily that I 
have found in great abundance on American Ridge above Bumping 
Lake, the avalanche lily has an aversion to gardens. It grows in a 
rugged environment; there and there alone it thrives. Like man, it 
needs a challenge to reach its full fruition. Its stimulus is the raw 
wind, cold thin earth, chill nights, and icy waters of the Cascades. 

Thus the snow which dampened our enthusiasm for this mountain 
trip brought rich rewards. It introduced me to this fragile but stout 
hearted beauty of the high mountains. 

There is a narrow, hogback saddle that connects the eastern end of 
Darling s top with the western end. The wind had cleared this saddle 
of all snow. But as we crossed it we saw ahead of us on the higher 
western end of the mountain great drifts that covered the trail. They 
were 1 5 to 20 feet deep. We worked our way around them and over, 
and slowly came to the western edge of Darling s top. It was late aft 
ernoon on a clear day. There was not a cloud in the sky. Brad and I 
stopped near the spot where a State Forest Service lookout tower 
now stands, threw off our packs on an outcropping of lava rock, and 
drank in the view. 

This is without doubt the most commanding view in the Cascades. 
To the east and the southeast were glimpses of the valleys around 


Yakima and Toppenish, gold and brown in the distance. Way to the 
south, deep in Oregon, the cold snowy shaft of Mount Jefferson 
loomed through a light haze. Then came Mount Hood the one 
that Lewis and Clark called the falls mountain or Timm Mountain 
touching the sky with its broad-bladed shoulder that ends in a sharp 
peak. Adams was next high humped and rounded, friendly and inti 
mate. Beyond it and to the right was St. Helens, a touch of fleecy 
cloud at the top of its white cone. 

Running south between us and Adams was a rough gash in the 
earth, the deep, serpentine canyon through which the Big Klickitat 
finds its way to the Columbia at Lyle, Washington. North of Adams 
was the jagged, snow-capped line of the Goat Rocks running in a 
northwesterly direction for 15 or 20 miles. North of it was mighty 
Rainier, dominating every peak and ridge in the range. To our north 
stood the jagged Tatoosh Range, the high rounded American Ridge, 
and other ranges that seemed to go on endlessly as waves in a vast sea 
until they finally were absorbed in the thickening haze of the horizon. 

Below us to the south, west, and north was a tumbled mass of 
peaks, rocks, and pinnacles. Valleys and ridges ran every which way, 
as if they were built without design or relation to the whole; and yet 
they all fitted as huge blocks into the gargantuan pattern of this tre 
mendous range. 

It was this view that led Theodore Winthrop to write in 1853 that 
"civilized man has never yet had a fresh chance of developing itself 
under grand and stirring influences so large" as that presented by the 
panorama of the Cascades (Canoe and Saddle). 

The view, like the one of the delicate bitterroot and of the fragile 
avalanche lily, has always led me to disagree with Edgar Allan Poe s 
statement that he did "not believe that any thought is out of the 
reach of language/ When I stand at this viewpoint, I am filled with 
a medley of emotions. I feel a challenge to explore each ridge and 
valley, to climb each snow-capped peak, to sleep in each high basin, 
to sample the berries and fish and all the other rich produce of the 
wilderness. It is the feeling that he who first topped the Blue Ridge 
Mountains or the Rockies must have had when he looked west and 


saw valleys untouched by the plow and a primeval forest that had 
never known an ax. 

These peaks and meadows were made for man, and man for them. 
They are man s habitat. He has eyes, ears, nose, and brain to under 
stand them. He has legs and lungs to take him anywhere and every 
where through them. Man must explore them and come to know 
them. They belong to him; yet they will eventually reclaim him and 
rule beyond his day as they ruled long before he appeared on the 
earth, long before he stood erect and faced the sun. 

The mountains are harsh and cruel. But unlike man, they are not 
revengeful. Their anger comes in a great flash flood or an avalanche 
that roars off the mountain on wheels of death. But then it is gone 
and over with. It does not linger on like man s anger, which festers 
and grows in his heart and then gushes out in a great Hitlerian burst 
of premeditated and planned destruction. Buck deer may lock horns 
and fight to the death for domination over the herd. Yet they do not 
plan wars or plot programs to dominate the forest. These beastly 
quarrels are short-lived and very much to the point of self-preserva 
tion. Only man has feuds, and plots the destruction of his neighbor 
or an entire race. 

When one stands on Darling Mountain, he is not remote and apart 
from the wilderness; he is an intimate part of it. The ridges run away 
at his feet and lead to friendly meadows. Every trail leads beyond the 
frontier. Every ridge, every valley, every peak offers a solitude deeper 
even than that of the sea. It offers the peace that comes only from 
solitude. It is in solitude that man can come to know both his heart 
and his mind. 

Brad and I had no choice but to camp on the top of Darling Moun 
tain all night. The western and northern slopes were covered witli 
snow. The remaining hours of daylight did not leave time enough to 
make a descent to any of the valleys below us. We selected an open 
space between snowdrifts where there was a stand of whitebark pine, 
and there pitched our pup tent and built our fire. 

The top of Darling is decorated with clumps of the whitebark pine. 


This is the pine whose seeds the birds seem particularly to relish. In 
seasons when the cones are full I have seen the camp robbers fever 
ishly tearing the cones apart for the seeds. And as the camp robbers 
worked the tops of the trees, the ruffed grouse followed on the 
ground to catch the seeds that fell. On the exposed dome of Darling 
the whitebark pine are dwarfed and twisted. Great snowdrifts press 
upon them for a large portion of the year. The severe northwest wind 
whips them almost continuously, so each tree is bent and wind-blown. 
But it has the capacity few other trees have to withstand the fiercest 
storms. Hence it is practically the only tree that stands on the exposed 
dome of Darling. 

On this mountain top a whitebark pine may be 200 years old and 
still be short and puny, stunted in growth. But it has the seasoning 
of scores of summers in its fiber. The ax bounces off it as if it were a 
species of hardwood. It has grown tough and rugged from a century or 
more of contests with the elements. It always reminds me of the 
wind-blown trees that the Knights of the Round Table, according to 
Tennyson, looked for among the crags as wood from which to fashion 
spears for their tournaments. 

We cut a dead whitebark pine of this tough variety for our fire. 
There was no white fir anywhere around the tree with the flat 
branches that make an excellent mattress. The leaves or needles of 
the whitebark pine grow all around the branch in bundles of five and 
make a coarse and bulky mattress. But we laid our blankets on them 
more for protection from the damp ground than for the comfort a 
mattress is supposed to bring. 

We melted snow for cooking, finished supper before all the stars 
were out, and put beans to soak for tomorrow s breakfast. The wind 
came up. It was not the warm chinook that comes from the south 
west. It came from the northwest with the chill of ice in its breath. 
We built a brisk fire to dry out our shoes and socks that had become 
soaked in the snow; and we tried to sit close to it to keep warm. But 
we finally gave up, put logs around the edges of the pup tent to im 
pede the wind, and went to bed early. 


It was a cold, cold night. I napped fitfully, chilled and uncomfort 
able on the mattress of whitebark pine boughs. 

We rose by the break of day and put on the beans that had been 
soaking all night. They, along with pancake bread and coffee, were 
to be our breakfast. But before that breakfast was eaten we had 
learned that cooking at a high altitude could be a slow process. We 
were camped at about 7,000 feet. Boiling water is not very hot at 
that elevation. We had no pressure cooker. So all we could do was 
to keep the pot bubbling. This we did for over four hours, and still 
the beans were only half-done. The day was wasting; we were impa 
tient to get off the mountain into the lowlands where we hoped to 
fish. So we started on the beans anyway. The outer part was done; 
but the inner core was as hard as plaster. Though we chewed and 
ate some of them, for the most part we spat them out as we would 
cherry pits. It was perhaps the most unsatisfactory mountain meal I 
ever had. 

We broke camp then. Down the western slope of Darling Moun 
tain was a snow field almost a mile long and dropping perhaps a 
thousand feet or more in elevation. It offered us an acceptable route, 
since it led to the South Fork of the Tieton where we wanted to go. 
The snow was what skiers call "corn" snow, hard and coarsely gran 
ulated. We had no skis, but we did have a frying pan apiece. 

"Why not use them as toboggans?" asked Brad. 

The idea was to sit in the frying pan, hold the feet up, lean slightly 
backwards, and, keeping the handle to the rear, use it as a steering rod. 
The problem of balance was complicated by the horseshoe packs 
around our necks, which became awkward and unwieldy when we 
were seated. 

Brad started off. The frying pan which he used as a sled bit slightly 
into the crust of the snow. He was soon going like a flash, rocking 
crazily from side to side, the ends of his horseshoe pack bobbing 
along on the snow. He had only a short run of 100 feet or so when 
he turned sideways and then rolled over and over. He finally dug his 
foot in the snow and ended up half-buried in the mountainside. His 


blue eyes were laughing as he brushed snow out of his hair. I followed 
suit and repeated his performance. I tried again and landed head 
down with my pack buried with me and only my feet free. Thus we 
rolled and slid off Darling Mountain, yelling and laughing and shout 
ing as we went. We were on and off the frying pans a dozen times or 
more. We had snow in our shoes and down our necks. Our hands 
were cold and raw from the rough snow; and our pants were wet. But 
the bottoms of our frying pans shone like new silver dollars. 

We camped that night at the base of Darling, by a falls close to 
the confluence of Bear Creek and the South Fork of the Tieton. The 
latter was swollen from the snow and white with raging water, so we 
did not even attempt to fish it. We usually had good luck fishing the 
South Fork at Conrad Meadows, which was above us a few miles. We 
headed up there the next morning, hoping without much reason that 
the stream would be more moderate at that point. 

Conrad Meadows is a good name and address in the Cascades. 
James H. Conrad, the man who homesteaded it and ran cattle in it 
for years, has a long-legged, clear eyed, friendly grandson, Norman 
Conrad, who runs cattle there today. Conrad Meadows is a mile or so 
long and perhaps a half-mile wide. It lies about 4000 feet above sea 
level. There are beautiful clumps of aspen in it and scatterings of 
black pine. We used to see knee-high grass there in early summer. 
The South Fork usually has a bit of the milk of glaciers in it, for a 
goodly portion of its supply comes off the Goat Rocks. But Conrad 
Creek, which joins the South Fork at the eastern edge of the Meadow, 
is always clear and cold. We would usually camp at that spot. 

It was a friendly and hospitable camping place. Less than ten miles 
to the west, standing way above an intervening ridge, is the rugged 
nose of Gilbert Peak of the Goat Rocks, inlaid with a streak of glacial 
ice and snow. There it stands alone, dominating the horizon. Gilbert 
Peak, seen from the low-rimmed Conrad Basin, is an invitation for 
exploration. It has always drawn me like a magnet. It has always lifted 
my heart. A peak that only nudges the sky with its nose, leaving the 
rest concealed, has peculiar appeal. It suggests that what lies beneath, 
hidden from view, may be valleys and lakes of unusual mystery, basins 


and meadows of romance, glaciers agleam with breath-taking thrills. 
Such is the special invitation that Gilbert Peak extends from Conrad 

There was more than beauty in those meadows. The South Fork 
was a good rainbow stream. Deep pools; long riffles; banks shaded by 
pine, fir, and willow; fast, cold water; a stream 30 to 50 feet wide 
this was the South Fork. Here we developed our skills as fly-fishermen. 
Here we found a generous food supply of fat, fighting rainbow. 

But the June day we arrived there the fishing was poor. Snow water 
filled the river and we had little luck. We decided against taking the 
trail through the steep draw on the south to the Klickitat Meadows, 
which had been our original destination, for its stream too would be 
full of snow water. So we watched the sun set over Gilbert Peak, 
broke camp the next morning, and headed down the South Fork to 
the Tieton Basin, some 12 to 14 miles to the northeast. 

Along we went on the easy down trail lined with lupine, vanilla 
leaf, huckleberry, cinquefoil, snowberry, and snowbrush not yet in 
bloom. We never stopped once as Brad, in the lead, set a good pace of 
three to four miles an hour. We crossed No Name Creek, Bear Creek, 
and innumerable smaller streams that in midsummer are rivulets and 
that now were freshets. We went through a grove of aspen and yellow 
pine at Minnie Meadows, crossed Middle Creek and Grey s Creek, 
and soon dropped into the Basin. 

We camped that night at McAllister Meadows near the junction 
of the North Fork and South Fork of the Tieton. To the north were 
Westfall Rocks and Goose Egg Mountain. Between them Rimrock 
Dam has since been erected to form the great reservoir that buried 
McAllister Meadows forever under its waters. To the east were the 
sheer cliffs of Kloochman, where once Doug Corpron and I almost 
lost our lives. In the shadow of these mighty fortresses we had after 
noon fishing in the North Fork. But it too was poor because of the 
snow water. As a result we decided to head for Fish Lake, where we 
were almost certain to get fish. It is a small, shallow lake whose waters 
are warm by early summer. Accordingly the next morning, shortly 
after sunrise, we started up the Indian Creek Trail. 


One branch of this trail goes to the headwaters of Indian Creek 
just below Pear Lake, climbs to the Blankenship Meadows, passes 
Twin Sister Lakes and drops to Fish Lake a good 1 8-mile hike. 
There is a fork in the trail about half-way to Pear Lake that leads west, 
passes near Dumbbell Lake, crosses Cowlitz Pass, skirts Fryingpan 
Lake, and, joining the trail out of the Twin Sisters, drops to Fish 
Lake. This was known as the Sand Ridge Trail. It was the one we 
decided to take. 

We followed the North Fork of the Tieton through Russell Ranch, 
climbed out of the Basin on the right side of Indian Creek, passing 
Boot Jack Rock on our right. We were on the lower reaches of Russell 
Ridge until we came to the Sand Ridge Trail about seven miles from 
our starting point. Here the trail turns west, crosses Indian Creek, and 
climbs precipitously almost a thousand feet. At this point we struck 
snow. It was soft and slushy and it wet us through. We struggled 
in it for an hour or more, frequently losing the trail and expending 
energy far out of proportion to our progress. 

We sat down on a ledge of rock for rest and consultation. Our de 
cision was to turn back, to camp that night in McAllister Meadows, 
and the next day to go down the Tieton River to the Naches, then 
along the Naches to home. 

We made an early camp in the Basin. It was not yet dark when we 
were eating our supper. Suddenly we said, almost in unison, "Why 
not go home tonight?" 

Since then I have seen the same thing happen over and again. Men 
in the mountains, nearing the end of their trip, have an urge to cut it 
short by a day or two and bolt for home. For some reason the pull of 
home at once becomes overpowering and irresistible. And a man 
headed for home, like a horse headed for oats in his stable, is head 
strong and unreasonable. 

Once made, the decision to push on that night became irrevocable. 
We hurried to do the dishes and reassemble our packs before dark. 
They were already light, as we had been eating from them for about 
five days. We made them even lighter by leaving behind all the food 


except dried prunes and dried apples (which we put in our pockets 
and munched through the night) and some flour which we could use 
to bake bread if need be. 

It was dark when we started. There was no moon; but the stars were 
out. We soon left Goose Egg Mountain as a great dark splotch 
against the western skyline, crossed Milk Creek, and keeping it on 
our left worked our way along the edge of a hillside until we de 
scended to the Tieton River. 

The trail crossed the river a mile or so later. The night was cold 
and the Tieton was filled with snow water. The water was frightfully 
cold as it swept above our knees in midstream, licking at the bottoms 
of the packs. We gained the other side with much splashing and 
muttering. My shoes were full of water, my teeth were chattering, I 
was chilled to the heart. 

We stopped on the far bank to stomp and try to shake some water 
from our trousers. Then a chill cramp hit my leg muscles. Brad too 
was seized. If there had been any doubt whether we would push on, 
the cramps in our legs and our shivering and shaking settled it. It 
was plain that it would take hours for us to thaw and dry out in camp. 
The best way was to keep moving. 

We covered thirty miles in those eight hours or more of darkness. 
It was the most drab and dreary hike I ever took. Many times I have 
come off a mountain in the dark or walked the high ridges in the 
blackness of night. Usually there is an exhilaration in it, for then 
most of the animals of the woods are on the move and all one s senses 
are quickened. But this night was oppressive. 

All the way down we were in the narrow Tieton canyon whose 
walls rise a thousand feet or so on each side. The bottom of such a 
canyon is naturally dark. It was a Stygian pit the night we traveled it. 
Shortly after we started, clouds had blotted out the stars and I could 
not see a hand in front of me. 

The trail along the Tieton was in truth a dirt road at the point 
where we crossed the river. It grew still wider as we moved down the 
canyon. Most of the time therefore we walked abreast, never speak 
ing, stumbling occasionally over a loose rock. The Tieton was high, 


as I have said. Soon we came to a portion of the road that had been 
overflowed. There was no detour we could find in the darkness. So 
for the second time we waded the icy water. More cramps made walk 
ing still more painful. But we had to keep moving to prevent the 
cramps from getting worse. 

How many inhabitants of the darkness may have seen us I never 
knew. I saw none of them. A screech owl protested our invasion of 
the canyon. There was an occasional slithering sound in the dry 
grasses beside the road. But though rattlers infest the lower reaches 
of the Tieton, I heard none that night it was too cold perhaps for 
snakes as sensitive as rattlers to be abroad. A piercing wind at our 
backs whirled and howled through the funnels of the canyon. It 
whipped the willows that lined the road so that occasionally they 
touched our faces. 

Several hours before daybreak, we began to see against the sky the 
vague outline of the hills that rose on either side. This was the first 
break in the darkness that had enveloped us the night long. The 
dimly lighted skyline at once became a guide. My eyes were more 
and more upon it. Over and again I said to myself, "Surely, the next 
turn must mark the end of the canyon/ My hope increased as the 
skyline of the hills brightened. But on each turn the hope vanished; 
ahead another few hundred yards was another twist in the ravine. 
The canyon appeared to go on without end and so it seems even to 
this day when I drive this canyon or any other like it. Each bend was 
like the bend behind, each was only the forerunner of a bend ahead. 
We were on a treadmill, plodding on and on but standing still. 

Brad was a stout hiker. There was the mark of determination on 
his sharp features, an impression verified by his deep and almost gruff 
voice and by his shock of unruly light-brown hair. He stood about 
five feet ten and was all muscle. He was short-legged and sturdy. He 
usually set the pace on our trips. He seemed to me to have endless 
energy, and I was always proud to be able to keep up with him. Brad 
was the pace-setter this night. It was a slow steady pace, the pace of a 
plodder, the pace of one who is distributing his energies over a 40- or 
jo-mile stretch. It was the pace of marching men, like the one I be- 


came acquainted with in 1918. It was steady, on and on, left, right, 
left, right, through the night. 

I was proud of my legs. They were so tired they felt numb. But 
they never failed. They did not cry out in anguish nor did they ache. 
The plop, plop of my feet sounded far away, remote, impersonal. I 
went down the canyon in the darkness, shoulder to shoulder with 
Brad. I was an automaton that had been set for a course and never 
missed a beat. 

The dawn came stealthily. As the gray of the sky increased, the 
wind died down. Rocks and bushes and trees for the first time became 
recognizable, not in detail but as identifiable blotches on a landscape. 
Then they emerged in daylight, stark naked in their poverty. For we 
had left the pines and fir and green hillsides far behind us. We had 
left the Tieton and were in the lower reaches of the Naches canyon. 

Mount Cleman, sterile and dry, was on our left. Its deep ravines, 
washed out by thousands of rains, looked in the dim light like folds 
of flesh on the face of an old, old person. So far as the eye could tell, 
the hills on both sides of the canyon were bare except for cheatgrass, 
bunchgrass, and sage. But as the sun rose, a soft green tinge touched 
them the light green of tender shoots and of the myriad wild flowers 
that were scattered in the sage and grass. There were cotton woods 
and oak in the draw and sumac and elderberry bushes by the river 
which gave a sparse greenness to the bottom of the canyon. A magpie 
appeared; but no other bird or animal greeted the dawn with us. The 
raven usually comes at this hour as the scavenger who picks up the 
carcasses of rabbits killed by the traffic of the night, but none was on 
hand this June morning. 

Now we could get our bearings. We were on familiar ground, and 
realized at once that we were only three or four miles from Naches. 
We paused briefly for a rest, taking off our packs and stretching out 
on the side of the road. We did not plan to go to sleep; but we did. 
We could not have slept long, for the sun was not yet up when we 
were awakened by the clattering of a truck. It was a truck en route 
to pick up cream from farms in the Naches canyon. We rose, startled 


and unsteady, when we saw it bearing down on us as we lay sprawled 
with our feet in the road itself. 

Once aroused we pushed on; and knowing that our goal was near, 
we picked up our pace. It was not long before there was a song in my 
heart. The sun was above the rim of hills to the east when I saw the 
village of Naches. Acres and acres of green alfalfa fields and scattered 
apple orchards lay before us, a friendly oasis in the desert. Only one 
who, in his great suffering throughout the night, despaired that morn 
ing would come, could have welcomed this sunrise more than 1. 1 was 
so relieved to have the dark ordeal behind me that I did not appre 
ciate how great was my fatigue. Since it was Sunday, no lunch counter 
would open until 8 o clock. It was now about 6:30. And the train 
known as Sagebrush Annie that would take us to Yakima, would 
not go down until 11 o clock. After 8, when at last I had my fill of 
ham, eggs, potatoes, and toast, an overwhelming drowsiness claimed 
me. I fell asleep on the station platform and was awakened by the 
clatter of the train. 

The next I knew the conductor was shaking me. I was home, saying 
good-by to Brad. In spite of my fatigue I put the horseshoe pack 
over my shoulder and walked the half-dozen blocks to my home with 
a spring in my legs. I was happy at heart if not in the flesh. I had 
walked with a pack over 40 miles in one day. I had walked the whole 
night through. I was proud of my legs. I wanted to shout "Look at 
my legs! Hear what I have done!" Remember, I was a boy. I wanted 
to laugh at the guys that said I had puny legs. I wanted to take them 
to the hills for a contest an endurance contest, if you please. Brad 
and I could outwalk anyone in the valley. 

And then I went to bed and slept from that noon until the sun 
was high the next day. 

When I awoke, the doubt was gone forever. The achievement 
of walking 40 miles with a pack in one day had banished it, just as the 
sun rising over Naches had absorbed the long fingers of mist that 
hung over the hayfields yesterday morning. 

Chapter VIII Deep Water 

THERE are many lakes to the north and west of Mount Adams. 
Often, like Surprise Lake below Gilbert Peak, they are dark and deep 
and lined with thick forests of pine and fir that run to the water. 
Others are hardly more than potholes. There is one such in a meadow 
near the southeastern end of the ridge mounted by the famous Goat 
Rocks. It is not more than 100 yards long and 50 wide. It lies in a 
high meadow of heather and alpine bunchgrass. It is fringed by 
dwarfed whitebark pine and Alaska cedar, both stunted by the alti 
tude and wind. It lies not more than a stone s throw from a per 
petual snowbank. Yet, under a July sun, the upper layer of its water 
was at times almost tepid. So Doug Corpron and I dubbed it Warm 
Lake. It was for us boys a friendly water hole. But I always felt an 
ominous spell hanging over the dark, tree-mirroring lakes when I 
traveled the Cascades as a boy. 

Part of my feeling was owing to the Indian legends. It was said 
that spirits or genii lived there. The gods controlled the formation of 
rain. If the lake waters were in any way disturbed, the gods who re 
sided there would send rain to plague the offenders. As a result the 
Indians would not throw rocks into such lakes, or drink from them, 
or water their horses there. And, most assuredly, they never would 
bathe or swim in them. At least that is the legend as it came to me. 

That legend alone, not to mention the eeriness, was enough to 
keep me from those shores. Some of the lakes even seemed spooky 
when I looked into them from a ridge. In my youthful imagination, 
a swirl in the middle of the lake might well have supernatural sig 
nificance. According to the Indians, that was supposed to be one way 
in which the spirit who lived there made his displeasure manifest. 

In some lakes of the region there were supposed to be beaver 


women, or water nymphs. It was said they would come half-way out, 
sometimes holding a baby. As a boy, I took them also on faith; but 
I never even imagined I saw one. 

The case of the sea serpent on Bumping Lake was different. This 
lake is about four miles long. Its natural size was much smaller. But 
about 1910 the United States Reclamation Service built a dam below 
the lake to impound water for irrigation. As a result a great timbered 
area was inundated. When the reservoir is full, there is a winding 
expanse of beautiful blue water. When it is down, stumps of the old 
forest, waterlogged driftwood, and mud flats stand exposed in ugli 

One day a few of us boys were walking the trail that leads along 
the northern shore of Bumping Lake to Fish Lake. Bumping Lake 
was brimful. It was raining; and a strong east wind was producing 
whitecaps at the western end of the lake. 

Suddenly one of the boys cried out, "Look, the serpent!" And 
there a hundred yards or so offshore was some object in the lake 
which in the haze of the storm did look like a huge snake playing on 
the surface of the water. What it was I never knew probably a half- 
submerged log or a long, sinewy branch. But I was an easy convert 
to the serpent theory. The Indian legend was that an evil spirit in 
habited that lake. He was a monster that reached up from the dark 
waters, grabbed unsuspecting fishermen, and took them with him to 
the darkness of the bottom. He would turn himself into floating logs, 
submerged branches, or trunks of trees, the better to deceive a 
passer-by. Hence even if what I saw on that rainy day was a log or a 
branch, it still was consistent with the serpent legend. 

The Indians kept away from Bumping Lake. In the 40 years that 
Jack Nelson lived there he only saw four Indians at the lake. They 
came for a ride in a brand new car, not to fish. 

So the tales concerning these deep lakes of the Cascades increased 
my wariness of all mountain lakes. 

The case of Warm Lake, below the Goat Rocks ridge, was differ 
ent. It was in the open, like a swimming pool in a lawn. Its water was 
so clear that I could see the rocky, sandy bottom far out from shore. 


No dark depths were there to warn me. And at no place did it appear 
more than twenty feet deep. There was nothing ominous about it, 
and, as I have said, its surface water was warm, although it lay close 
to a snow field. As boys we planned a night there whenever possible, 
for there is nothing more attractive than a bath after a week s exer 
tion on the trails. And there is the same novelty about swimming in 
comfort next to a snowbank as there is skating outdoors on artificial 
ice at Sun Valley on a warm day in July. 

We would bathe and swim in this lake for a whole afternoon in 
July or August. Our pattern was to take a dip, then lie naked in the 
heather sunning ourselves, and then return to the water for more 
splashing and shouting. Yet I never got far from the bank. I remem 
ber being there with Doug Corpron and watching him. He would 
dive in with a running jump from the bank, coast part of the way 
across the pond under water, then come up to the surface, swim to 
the far bank and, without stopping, swim back. He d shout to me, 
"Come on! If s fun!" 

He had a round face that always seemed cheerful and content. And 
he had brown eyes that exuded confidence. He stood about five feet 
ten and even as a boy was on the plump side. He d stand on the 
bank of the little lake, toss his head to shake the water off, and 
smooth down his shock of dark-brown hair. Then after a moment s 
rest he d dive in and be off again. He seemed to me to be as much at 
home in the water as a porpoise or a seal. 

I hugged the bank, wading and splashing water. When I had my 
picture taken in this pond, I made sure I had only my head sticking 
out. But I did it by kneeling in shallow water. Once or twice when 
I tried to swim, a feeling of panic swept over me. I would freeze and 
become rigid, unable to move my legs. I would gasp for breath and 
strike out with my arms. My legs would hang straight down in the 
water and I would be unable to move them. Even when I walked in 
water over my waist, the panic would seize me and I would have to 
go to shore. 

No one ever knew this. I naturally was ashamed of it. It all fitted 
into fears that had become established in my imagination. I thought 


it had something to do with my puny legs, since they became useless 
once I got into deep water. That fact puzzled me. I often said to 
myself, "It s funny that I can walk and run and climb with my legs, 
but not swim with them." But once the panic seized me in the water, 
I had no command over them. I suffered intensely as I fished the 
streams and lakes of the Cascades, or as I bathed in Warm Lake. 

The worry grew and grew, as only a specter can. It made every ex 
panse of water a source of anxiety and yet a challenge. It was at once 
an invitation to overcome the fear and a fear that I would never suc 
ceed in doing so. My aversion to the water was, indeed, mixed with 
a great attraction for it. Often I would be mesmerized by it and stand 
on the edge of a pond or a pool, looking into the water as if to draw 
from its depths the secret of its conquest of me. It was the master; 
I was the servant. That created a resentment which developed in my 
heart; and the more helpless I was in conquering my fear the more 
intense the resentment became. The waters of the rivers and lakes 
were great attractions; but as one can have an appetite for food to 
which he is allergic, so the waters to which I was drawn filled me 
with apprehension. 

I knew the origin of my fears. They went back to the day I almost 
drowned. But I thought it took only will power and courage to over 
come the fear that drowning had instilled in me. I learned years later 
that the early fears of childhood work through the sympathetic nerv 
ous system, which does not depend on will power for its functioning. 
When the man says "Yes/ the sympathetic nervous system will often 
say "No" and send him helter-skelter in the direction opposite from 
where he decided to go. If this goes on long enough, a man can con 
clude he is irrational or end up frustrated and desperately ill with an 
illness that no medicine can cure. 

It had happened when I was ten or eleven years old. I had decided 
to learn to swim. There was a pool at the Y.M.C.A. in Yakima that 
offered exactly the opportunity. The Yakima River was treacherous. 
Mother continually warned against it, and kept fresh in my mind the 
details of each drowning in the river. But the Y.M.C.A. pool was 


safe. It was only two or three feet deep at the shallow end; and while 
it was nine feet deep at the other, the drop was gradual. I got a pair 
of water wings and went to the pool. I hated to walk naked into it 
and show my skinny legs. But I subdued my pride and did it. 

From the beginning, however, I had an aversion to the water when 
I was in it. This started when I was three or four years old and 
Father took me to the beach in California. He and I stood together 
in the surf. I hung on to him, yet the waves knocked me down and 
swept over me. I was buried in water. My breath was gone. I was 
frightened. Father laughed, but there was terror in my heart at the 
overpowering force of the waves. 

My introduction to the Y.M.C.A. swimming pool revived unpleas 
ant memories and stirred childish fears. But in a little while I gath 
ered confidence. I paddled with my new water wings, watching the 
other boys and trying to learn by aping them. I did this two or three 
times on different days and was just beginning to feel at ease in the 
water when the misadventure happened. 

I went to the pool when no one else was there. The place was 
quiet. The water was still, and the tiled bottom was as white and 
clean as a bathtub. I was timid about going in alone, so I sat on the 
side of the pool to wait for others. 

I had not been there long when in came a big bruiser of a boy, 
probably eighteen years old. He had thick hair on his chest. He was 
a beautiful physical specimen, with legs and arms that showed rip 
pling muscles. He yelled, "Hi, Skinny! How d you like to be ducked?" 

With that he picked me up and tossed me into the deep end. I 
landed in a sitting position, swallowed water, and went at once to 
the bottom. I was frightened, but not yet frightened out of my wits. 
On the way down I planned: When my feet hit the bottom, I would 
make a big jump, come to the surface, lie flat on it, and paddle to 
the edge of the pool. v 

It seemed a long way down. Those nine feet were more like ninety, 
and before I touched bottom my lungs were ready to burst. But when 
my feet hit bottom I summoned all my strength and made what I 
thought was a great spring upwards. I imagined I would bob to the 


surface like a cork. Instead I came up slowly. I opened my eyes and 
saw nothing but water water that had a dirty yellow tinge to it. I 
grew panicky. I reached up as if to grab a rope and my hands clutched 
only at water. I was suffocating. I tried to yell but no sound came 
out. Then my eyes and nose came out of the water but not my 

I flailed at the surface of the water, swallowed and choked. I tried 
to bring my legs up, but they hung as dead weights, paralyzed and 
rigid. A great force was pulling me under. I screamed, but only the 
water heard me. I had started on the long journey back to the bot 
tom of the pool. 

I struck at the water as I went down, expending my strength as 
one in a nightmare fights an irresistible force. I had lost all my 
breath. My lungs ached, my head throbbed. I was getting dizzy. But 
I remembered the strategy: I would spring from the bottom of the 
pool and come like a cork to the surface. I would lie flat on the water, 
strike out with my arms, and thrash with my legs. Then I would get 
to the edge of the pool and be safe. 

I went down, down, endlessly. I opened my eyes. Nothing but 
water with a yellow glow dark water that one could not see through. 

And then sheer, stark terror seized me, terror that knows no under 
standing, terror that knows no control, terror that no one can under 
stand who has not experienced it. I was shrieking under water. I was 
paralyzed under water stiff, rigid with fear. Even the screams in my 
throat were frozen. Only my heart, and the pounding in my head, 
said that I was still alive. 

And then in the midst of the terror came a touch of reason. I must 
remember to jump when I hit the bottom. At last I felt the tiles 
under me. My toes reached out as if to grab them. I jumped with 
everything I had. 

But the jump made no difference. The water was still around me. 
I looked for ropes, ladders, water wings. Nothing but water. A mass 
of yellow water held me. Stark terror took an even deeper hold on 
me, like a great charge of electricity. I shook and trembled with 


fright. My arms wouldn t move. My legs wouldn t move. I tried to 
call for help, to call for Mother. Nothing happened. 

And then, strangely, there was light. I was coming out of the awful 
yellow water. At least my eyes were. My nose was almost out too. 

Then I started down a third time. I sucked for air and got water. 
The yellowish light was going out. 

Then all effort ceased. I relaxed. Even my legs felt limp; and a 
blackness swept over my brain. It wiped out fear; it wiped out terror. 
There was no more panic. It was quiet and peaceful. Nothing to be 
afraid of. This is nice ... to be drowsy ... to go to sleep ... no need 
to jump . . . too tired to jump . . . it s nice to be carried gently . . . 
to float along in space . . . tender arms around me . . . tender arms 
like Mother s . . . now I must go to sleep. . . . 

I crossed to oblivion, and the curtain of life fell. 

The next I remember I was lying on my stomach beside the pool, 
vomiting. The chap that threw me in was saying, "But I was only 
fooling." Someone said, "The kid nearly died. Be all right now. Let s 
carry him to the locker room." 

Several hours later I walked home. I was weak and trembling. I 
shook and cried when I lay on my bed. I couldn t eat that night. For 
days a haunting fear was in my heart. The slightest exertion upset 
me, making me wobbly in the knees and sick to my stomach. 

I never went back to the pool. I feared water. I avoided it whenever 
I could. 

A few years later when I came to know the waters of the Cascades, 
I wanted to get into them. And whenever I did whether I was wad 
ing the Tieton or Bumping River or bathing in Warm Lake of the 
Goat Rocks the terror that had seized me in the pool would come 
back. It would take possession of me completely. My legs would be 
come paralyzed. Icy horror would grab my heart. 

This handicap stayed with me as the years rolled by. In canoes on 
Maine lakes fishing for landlocked salmon, bass fishing in New 
Hampshire, trout fishing on the Deschutes and Metolius in Oregon, 
fishing for salmon on the Columbia, at Bumping Lake in the Gas- 


cades wherever I went, the haunting fear of the water followed me. 
It ruined my fishing trips; deprived me of the joy of canoeing, boat 
ing, and swimming. 

I used every way I knew to overcome this fear, but it held me 
firmly in its grip. Finally, one October, I decided to get an instructor 
and learn to swim. I went to a pool and practiced five days a week, 
an hour each day. The instructor put a belt around me. A rope at 
tached to the belt went through a pulley that ran on an overhead 
cable. He held on to the end of the rope, and we went back and forth, 
back and forth across the pool, hour after hour, day after day, week 
after week. On each trip across the pool a bit of the panic seized me. 
Each time the instructor relaxed his hold on the rope and I went 
under, some of the old terror returned and my legs froze. It was 
three months before the tension began to slack. Then he taught me to 
put my face under water and exhale, and to raise my nose and inhale. 
I repeated the exercise hundreds of times. Bit by bit I shed part of 
the panic that seized me when my head went under water. 

Next he held me at the side of the pool and had me kick with my 
legs. For weeks I did just that. At first my legs refused to work. But 
they gradually relaxed; and finally I could command them. 

Thus, piece by piece, he built a swimmer. And when he had per 
fected each piece, he put them together into an integrated whole. In 
April he said, "Now you can swim. Dive off and swim the length of 
the pool, crawl stroke." 

I did. The instructor was finished. 

But I was not finished. I still wondered if I would be terror-stricken 
when I was alone in the pool. I tried it. I swam the length up and 
down. Tiny vestiges of the old terror would return. But now I could 
frown and say to that terror, "Trying to scare me, eh? Well, here s 
to you! Look!" And off I d go for another length of the pool. 

This went on until July. But I was still not satisfied. I was not sure 
that all the terror had left. So I went to Lake Wentworth in New 
Hampshire, dived off a dock at Triggs Island, and swam two miles 
across the lake to Stamp Act Island. I swam the crawl, breast stroke, 
side stroke, and back stroke. Only once did the terror return. When 


I was in the middle of the lake, I put my face under and saw nothing 
but bottomless water. The old sensation returned in miniature. I 
laughed and said, "Well, Mr. Terror, what do you think you can do 
to me?" It fled and I swam on. 

Yet I had residual doubts. At my first opportunity I hurried west, 
went up the Tieton to Conrad Meadows, up the Conrad Creek Trail 
to Meade Glacier, and camped in the high meadow by the side of 
Warm Lake. The next morning I stripped, dived into the lake, and 
swam across to the other shore and back just as Doug Corpron used 
to do. I shouted with joy, and Gilbert Peak returned the echo. I had 
conquered my fear of water. 

The experience had a deep meaning for me ? as only those who 
have known stark terror and conquered it can appreciate. In death 
there is peace. There is terror only in the fear of death, as Roosevelt 
knew when he said, "All we have to fear is fear itself/ Because I had 
experienced both the sensation of dying and the terror that fear of it 
can produce, the will to live somehow grew in intensity. 

At last I felt released free to walk the trails and climb the peaks 
and to brush aside fear. 

Chapter IX Fear Walks the Woods 

As FAR as the forces of nature are concerned, there are only two 
serious dangers in the mountains. The animals can be put aside, for 
they try to avoid man. The grizzly may be an exception; but it has 
been my experience that one can get into trouble with the black or 
brown bear only if he succeeds in maneuvering himself between a 
mother and her cubs. I have met timber wolves on trails when I was 
unarmed and have always been able to stare them down. The cougar 
is the hardest of all animals to see and seldom attacks a man. The 
bull elk when he is with the cows is probably the most dangerous of 
all animals in the woods. But the chance of conflict with a wild ani 
mal in the hills is not so great as the chance you take in trafEc when 
you walk the city streets. 

The forest fire and the avalanche are different. They are two risks 
that, at certain times of the year, always look over the shoulder of 
one who knows the mountains and travels their trails. 

The forests of the Pacific Northwest can become kindling. In long 
periods of drought the trails lie thick in dust, ankle deep and as fine 
as flour. Pine and fir needles become as combustible as paper. A 
campfire, unless circled with a trench, can spread along and under 
the surface. The chain that drags a log in lumber operations may 
scrape a rock and make a spark, igniting almost at once a whole forest. 
A cigarette or match carelessly tossed by the side of the trail can do 
the same. Lightning may make a flaming torch of any of the resinous 
evergreens. Even one spark can cause irreparable damage a smoul 
dering fire whipped to a blaze by a slight wind, racing up trees and 
through forests faster than a man can run, killing all life with its hot 
tongue, leaving behind desolation and a sterile earth that will not 
produce crops of timber for a generation or more. 



Rangers, guards, and lookouts of the Forest Service are on edge in 
these dry spells. Douglas C. Ingram was a grazing examiner of the 
Forest Service. He was an outstanding field botanist. One day he sent 
in to Washington, D.C. from southwest Oregon a new species of 
Silene, a wild flower of the pink family. The species he sent is the 
handsomest of the western Silenes gray-green leaves topped by deep 
cherry-red flowers. On August 17, 1929, Dayton had it named for 
Ingram: Silene ingrami. Ingram never knew this, for a few days 
earlier he had died fighting a forest fire. 

The fire was on Camas Creek in the Chelan National Forest of 
eastern Washington. Lightning had struck a pine tree. A trench was 
put around the fire after it had burned 160 acres. It seemed the dan 
ger was over. But the next day the wind picked up live embers and 
carried them across the trench. They fell within a few feet of the 
fire fighters. The freakish wind whipped the fire so crazily that the 
men could not stop it. Before morning the fire had covered 5,000 
acres and was still raging. 

A large crew was brought in, including Glenn Mitchell and Ingram. 
When the fire trapped a dozen of the men, Ingram led them into a 
small clearing and sat whittling sticks and telling stories. His cool 
leadership banished their panic and restored reason. But all this time 
the fire was leaping toward them. This was not a ground fire; it was 
a crown fire that traveled the tops of the trees the kind of a forest 
fire that often goes faster than a horse can run. If the men had run, 
the flames would have curled around their shoulders and burned 
them to cinders. Ingram was ready for the emergency. As the fire 
sped toward them, Ingram had the crew lie flat. The fire leaped over 
them and went its mad way. Then Ingram led them safely to camp. 

A couple of days later the men were about to be trapped again. In 
gram pulled them out and took them to a high ridge to eat lunch. 
Since conditions had not improved, he then sent them back to camp. 
Ingram and Ernani St. Luise remained behind to look for Glenn 
Mitchell who, they thought, had gone down the ridge. They had not 
traveled far before the wind blew up the fire. The fire was below 
them. An inexperienced person would probably have retraced his 
steps. But as Glenn Mitchell told me, "Anyone who has fought fires 


knows that they run uphill whenever there is a chance/ Mitchell 
knew what a forest fire would do, for this same day a crown fire had 
made a fast run up the ridge where he was working. A hot wave of 
flame and smoke barely missed him. 

Ingram also knew forest fires. His decision was to get around the 
end of the fire and below it. But as Glenn Mitchell said when he de 
scribed this fire to me, "This was one of those phenomenal instances 
when the unexpected happened/ The fire did not travel uphill or 
down. It burned a strip about a mile wide and three miles long on 
a level contour. It was going faster than Ingram and St. Luise could 
walk. Hurry as they did, they could not get ahead of it. Progress was 
slow because of the rough terrain and down timber. The freak wind 
increased to a gale, and whipped the fire up the ridge towards them. 
It came with a roar, curling over the trees and along the tops. Its 
long, hot tongue licked the earth and turned it black. 

Ingram and St. Luise saw it coming. They picked out a fairly open, 
yellow pine slope where there was not much to burn. They lay down 
together, faces to the ground. A wall of fire and smoke, fifty or more 
feet high, raced up the slope, faster than a horse could run. It lay 
over the men for a second or two like a fiery blanket, burning their 
clothing and blackening their skin. Then it was gone in a flash, roar 
ing like a winged inferno to the top of the ridge. 

Ingram and St. Luise probably were suffocated from lack of oxygen. 
They may have been suffocated even before the fire reached them. A 
near-vacuum, with the heat of a furnace, is often formed in the path 
of a raging forest fire. 

The avalanche of snow has left its scars on most of the ridges of 
the Pacific Northwest. It often carries whole forests with it, tumbling 
tall pine and fir as if they were matches and rolling huge rocks be 
fore it. There are many scars of avalanches in the Cascades. There 
are even more in the Wallowas. 

The Wallowas lie in the northeast corner of Oregon. They have 
peaks in the io,ooo-feet zone such as Eagle Cap, Matterhorn, and 
Sacajawea. The ridges of the Cascades are for the most part soft, 
rounded, and heavily wooded, and run around 6,000 feet. In the 


Wallowas they are mostly jagged backbones, made of a granitic rock 
and averaging around 9,000 feet in elevation. Some are so narrow on 
the top that a horse cannot be ridden along them. Many of the canyon 
walls of the Wallowas are sheer rock that has been polished by gla 
ciers slopes that have a 30-, 40-, or even 6o-degree grade. For all 
practical purposes they are straight up and down. Thus the Wallowas 
have become known as the Switzerland of America. 

It is indeed unusual to see a canyon in the Wallowas whose walls 
have not been scarred by slides. Some slides have left swaths three 
or four thousand feet long and a quarter of a mile or so wide. Some 
times they have had such tremendous momentum as to carry across 
the canyon a half-mile and then up several hundred yards on the 
other wall, leveling everything and grinding great rocks to powder. 
One such slide took place a dozen years or more ago about a half- 
mile above Turkey Flat on the Lostine River not far from our cabin. 

A slide of such proportions can crush a house as if it were a card 
board carton. Selecting a location for a cabin therefore requires care. 
Some of the most beautiful sites lie at the mouths of draws that can, 
and do, spew thousands of tons of snow, rocks, dirt, and trees into 
the valleys. 

John Muir once reported snowslides that wiped out lakes in the 
Sierra. I know one such in the Wallowas. High on the ridge west of 
our cabin on the Lostine River in the Wallowas is Mud Lake. It lies 
under a granite wall that rises at a steep angle 1000 feet or more above 
it. The lake was known for its five- and six-pound eastern brook trout. 
Today it still has trout; but most of the big ones disappeared in a 
snowslide in the spring of 1948. The slide came off the granite wall, 
carried through the lake, and crushed trees 50 yards across the 
meadow on the far side. As it swept through the lake it took water 
and fish with it, as one would empty a wash pan with the palm of 
his hand in a quick sideward movement. 

Anyone who has stood on a hillside watching a boulder rolling 
down toward him has seen a rockslide in miniature. 
One day in June in the early forties, I was on my way by horseback 


to Frances Lake in the Wallowas. The lake is usually at its best 
three weeks after the ice is out. There still was much snow up high. 
But the lake, which lies over the ridge to the east of our cabin, is one 
of the earliest lakes to go out in the spring. It has three-pound rain 
bow in it, a lure that offsets the steep and treacherous trail that 
reaches there. The trail rises about 4,000 feet in a mile and a half. 
The last 1500 feet are in fairly open terrain and rise at a grade of 
around 40 degrees. 

I had worked my way on horseback to about 500 feet from the top 
of the ridge. The climb is strenuous and I had stopped many times 
to let my horse blow. Once while he rested I alighted and turned him 
sideways, to tighten the cinch. I had finished with that and was stand 
ing at his head, holding the bridle in my hands, when I heard a noise. 
I looked up and saw a boulder, weighing at least 50 pounds, jumping 
and hurtling through the air, headed my way. 

It had been loosened by some animal, probably a bear that went 
up the wooded stretch over the saddle ahead of me. The boulder 
wobbled on its course, careening first to the left and then to the right 
like some wanton dervish bent on destruction. To run was dangerous: 
the footing was unsure, time was short, and there was no way of es 
caping the wide arc the rock was commanding as it bounded unpre- 
dictably from one side to the other on its downward course. My 
decision was instantaneous to stand still. 

In the split second or two which it took the rock to reach me, there 
came back to me the vivid memory of a funeral service twenty-five 
years earlier in Yakima. A prominent citizen had died in a mysterious 
manner. The church was packed and I, a boy of fifteen, slipped in 
and stood at the back, more out of curiosity, I think, than respect. 
Standing there, I heard an eloquent minister describe the strange 
passing of the deceased. It was, he said, as accidental as that caused 
by a huge rock which, started by the casual step of some animal, 
comes hurtling off a mountainside to strike an innocent and unsus 
pecting traveler strolling in the valley below. 

Was the drama of that sermon to be staged on the mountainside 
before my own eyes? But the rock was on me. I could feel its breeze 


and almost its fury as it roared under the belly of the frantic horse at 

a speed greater than he could ever run. 

My heart was still pounding as I watched it roll on and on a thou 
sand feet or more down into the abyss below. 

An avalanche of snow has ten thousand times the alarm that any 
thing else in the mountains can produce. I saw one in action on the 
same ridge some ten years ago. 

Before the trail starts up the steep stretch of mountainside where 
the bounding rock came down on me, it crosses a ravine. This ravine 
runs to the top of the ridge, 1500 feet or so. It is a V-shaped ravine 
about 50 feet across. It has been washed by thousands of rains and 
polished by innumerable slides. And it collects great rocks as the 
peaks that tower over it crumble and crack under the action of the 

In June 1940 I was on this trail headed for Frances Lake. When 
I reached the ravine, it was filled with snow eight or ten feet of it. 
The snow was getting so soft that my horse would sink deep in it. 
So I dismounted and led him across the 5o-foot span of snow. The 
trail then climbs sharply about 30 or 40 feet. I went that far on foot 
and stopped to mount. 

Then without warning came the slide. I heard the Erst roar as it 
started near the top of the ravine. It picked up rocks and snow as it 
poured down the funnel, gaining momentum as it neared. Rocks as 
big as pianos were traveling ahead of it. Other rocks, small and huge, 
were caught up in the snow and debris. By the time it reached me 
the slide was 50 feet wide, 20 feet deep, and 100 yards long. 

The vibration shook the mountain itself. The roar was that of a 
hundred express trains in a tunnel, of dozens of thunderstorms on an 
echoing hillside. 

It rushed past, almost at my feet. It looked like a mad monster, 
roaring to destruction. Tons of wet, dirty snow hurled great rocks in 
the air as if they were pebbles. The whole churning mass seemed to 
have been tossed by some frenzied beast. The rocks on which I stood 
trembled as it passed. The slide moved on and on down the moun- 


tain until, with a shattering of trees in the forest below, it stopped. 
All was as silent as if death itself had passed through the ravine. 

The fears of forest fires and avalanches, the only mountain fears 
that have any substantial basis of fact, are not the ones men usually 
take with them into the wilderness. The things they fear in the 
woods are in large part the same kind of things they fear in the city. 
The things they fear hold no intrinsic threat. They are as harmless 
as a frown, a knife, a skyscraper, a great cliff, or lightning. They are 
symbols of things that are terrifying. 

Some fears may represent a person or place or event that was pain 
ful or frightening in childhood. The water of the lakes and rivers of 
the Cascades was such a symbol to me, as I have said, until I finally 
conquered the fear of drowning. Some, like a knife or office building 
or cliff, may be an invitation to death, by suggesting injury either to 
one s self or to another. Others, like lightning, may quicken feelings 
of guilt by suggesting long fingers of a revengeful god that reach down 
from the heavens to punish the culprit. 

I have known people to go to bed and cover themselves with blan 
kets when an electrical storm came. I have seen them filled with ter 
ror when the lightning struck and the thunder rolled. These people 
suffer real agony when they are on a mountainside and the storm 
breaks. Then there is no place to hide, no shelter. Man then stands 
in the open like the pine and the fir, without cover or protection. 
Like them, he is a good lightning rod. 

Some of these mountain scenes of electrical storms can be either 
beautiful or terrifying, depending on one s conditioning. A few years 
ago I brought a pack train out of the Minam in the Wallowas up the 
Glacier Trail to Long Lake. A storm was rising from the south as 
we started the steep climb out of the Minam. We were perhaps 1500 
feet above the river when the storm broke on the opposite ridge, 
some five air miles away. For a while sheet lightning played among 
the clouds. Then forked tongues struck at the ridge. In rapid suc 
cession almost as fast as one could count lightning hit three trees. 
And as each tree was hit it burst into flames like a match. It was one 


of those rare and exquisitely beautiful scenes that one could ride the 
trails 50 years or more and never see. For some people, however, 
there would be in it no beauty but only terror. 

Being lost in the woods is for many people the most frightening 
experience of all. The very thought of being lost strikes fear, and casts 
a shadow over many mountain trips. It is so powerful a force that in 
spite of its subtlety it can produce a quick sweat or cause other dis 
comfiture to the uninitiated. I do not pretend to know the various 
elements from which that fear is compounded. They probably vary 
among individuals. But ignorance is probably the mainstay of the 
fear. Lack of familiarity with the mountains, and with their ways, 
can create panic. Knowledge of their sources of food and shelter, and 
the manner of finding one s directions without a compass, points the 
way to survival. This creates confidence. But confidence is the prod 
uct of experience. 

Being lost in the Cascades or the Wallowas is not, of course, as 
dangerous as being lost in the Maine woods. I remember a few years 
back, leaving Gordon Frazer s lodge on the shores of Square Lake 
in the northeast corner of Maine, and striking through the woods a 
few miles to a trout stream. I had spent many a day in the woods; 
but I saw at once that these were woods that presented a different 
and more acute problem. The terrain was low rolling; there were no 
peaks or high ridges to give a bearing. And once I was in the woods, 
there were many stretches so thick with spruce and balsam fir that I 
could not even see the sky. 

To the untrained eye they had a sameness that could be woefully 
misleading. By studying moss and bark and the lengths of branches, 
one could determine, without the aid of a compass, which direction 
was north. But it was plain that he would have to be on intimate 
terms with those woods, and know them throughout their farthest 
reach, to walk them with assurance and confidence. Gordon Frazer 
was such a person. We went to our trout stream by day, and returned 
in the dark as surely as the taxi driver finds the station for the new- 


comer in a strange city. But I never spent enough time in them to 
feel that I would be master if I were there alone. 

The case of the Cascades and Wallowas is different. If one is lost 
in them, there are ridges to climb to find the directions; and once on 
top there usually is some major peak to serve as a landmark. Even if 
the higher points are hidden in clouds, there is often some lake or 
ridge to mark a bearing on a map. Yet that is not always true. 

In 1948, I was camping with friends at Fryingpan Lake, which 
lies on the wide plateau above Bumping and Fish lakes. Conelike 
Tumac Mountain rises in the middle of this plateau and dominates 
it. There is no surer guidepost in the Cascades. But the morning 
when we broke camp at Fryingpan, a thick mist hung over the plateau, 
blotting everything from sight that was not within 50 or 100 yards. 
The low-lying fog was as thick as pea soup. No landmarks were left. 
Only the dark shapes of trees loomed in the mist, and they all looked 

Katherine Kershaw and Johnny Glenn took the pack train down 
the trail to Cowlitz Pass and Dumbbell Lake. Elon and I planned 
to go cross-country about two miles to Twin Sister Lakes and then 
cut back cross-country to Cowlitz Pass, traveling two sides of the 
triangle while the pack train took the hypotenuse. We studied our 
maps and headed the horses we were riding in the direction where 
the Twin Sisters lay. We traveled half an hour or more in the mist 
and discovered we were almost back at Fryingpan. We started again. 
Once more it happened. We started a third time. Again the horses 
returned us to Fryingpan. 

They were circling with us, looking for the other horses. The circles 
they were making were wide, gentle arcs. There were no landmarks 
to guide us. Hence it was not easy for us to keep them on the com^ 
pass. We finally gave up, conspired at Fryingpan, and picked up the 
roundabout trail that leads to the Twin Sisters. 

In the mountains horses often circle on their riders. It s a natural 
thing to do. A hungry man who passes a restaurant that exudes odors 
of ham and eggs is likely to circle back if the next block takes him to 


the edge of town and the blackness of night. A lonesome man will 
do the same. Horses are in that sense only human. 

Horses are more reliable than men, however, when all landmarks 
are blotted out. Some men have a keen sense of direction when walk 
ing blindly in the woods, but the majority do not. Even Bob Bow 
man lost his directions in the woods. Bob was as good a woodsman 
as the mountains have produced. He spent most of his life in the 
Wallowas and knew them in detail. The trail that leaves the Lostine 
canyon a short distance below our cabin, goes over the high ridge 
to the west through Brownie Basin and Wilson Basin, and then 
drops to the North Minam Meadows, was originally laid out by Bob 
and appropriately carries the name of Bowman. 

Bob was a storyteller of note. He was present in 1942 at the 
cabinwarming and told tall tales that even his friends doubted. He 
told, for example, of the lady who was fishing for redsides in the 
Wallowa River. She had boots on and was standing in the river with 
a pitchfork. When a school of redsides came by, she would scoop 
them up with the fork and toss them on the bank. 

"In a little while," said Bob, "so many redsides swam up the river 
that they knocked her down." 

And after a respectful pause, he added: "Those fish would have 
drowned her but for me. I went in and dragged that good lady from 
the river." 

But the story of what actually happened to Bob, himself, topped 
even his tallest tale. It happened in the North Minam Meadows. He 
and Roy Schaeffer had been hunting deer. They had shot a buck 
deer high on a ridge overlooking the meadows. It lay 1500 feet or 
more up the ridge at the base of sheer cliffs. Roy went for the buck, 
taking one horse with him and leaving the pack train with Bob. He 
told Bob to wait for him in the meadows. 

Bob tied the horses to trees, built a fire, and sat down to wait. He 
had only the horses and a flask of whiskey for company. Darkness 
soon came, the hours passed, the flask at last was empty, and Roy did 
not return. Bob began to think he had misunderstood Roy. So he tied 
the pack train together again and started down the valley on foot, 


leading the horses and looking for Roy. In a half-hour or so he saw 
a bonfire ahead of him in a grove of trees. 

He stopped and shouted, "Hullo! 7 There was no answer. 

Again he shouted at the top of his lungs, "Hullo!" No one an 

Once more he yelled, "I say, hullo over there!" Still no answer. 

By then Bob was put out. Cupping his hands, he bellowed, "Well, 
don t answer if you don t want to, you long-nosed, old goats/ 

A few hours later Roy found Bob far up the canyon. 

Roy laughed when he told me the story. "You know," he said, 
"the next morning I proved to Bob by his tracks that he had been 
yelling at his own bonfire the night before." 

The trips my brother Art and I took into the Cascades as boys 
worried Mother sick. To her the idea of being lost in the mountains 
was terrifying. But it was a matter of no great concern to us even 
when we were lost, as once we were. I was seventeen and Art thir 
teen. We were on foot in the Cascades with our horseshoe packs. We 
had left Fish Lake and climbed the ridge to the trail that leads to 
Dewey Lake. We were on the ridge somewhere southwest of Cougar 
Lake when we got lost. 

It had rained at Fish Lake the night before and the air was heavy 
with fog. Visibility was not more than a hundred yards or so. Rainier 
was blotted out; and so were the towering cliffs that decorate this 
majestic ridge. There were no landmarks left; and we were not very 
familiar with the territory. We had left the trail, looking for low- 
bush huckleberries. Instead of returning to the trail the way we had 
left it, we went forward at an angle, expecting to pick it up on our 
right. We came to what we thought was the trail and followed it. It 
turned out to be no more than a deer run. If we had taken the pains 
to find even one blaze, our trouble would have been saved. We 
should in any event have been wise to our error, for in a mile or so 
the path we were following started down a canyon on the left. A 
careful look at the contour map would have shown that Dewey Lake 


did not lie in that kind of domain. But we went on our way, ignorant 
of our error. 

We dropped at least 1000 feet. The pitch of the canyon wall was 
precipitous. I began to have doubts about the trail, because it looked 
more and more like a deer run. But it was hard to concede an error 
of this kind, especially when it meant climbing a thousand feet or 
so with a pack up the steep canyon wall that we had just come down. 

We were almost to the bottom of the canyon when the deer run 
petered out. It was plain that we had come the wrong way. By then 
it was dusk and there was no use turning back. We had seen no water 
on the ridge for several hours. We did not know whether the trail 
lay to the north or the south of us. We were turned around and 
needed time and daylight to reconnoiter. It was better, we thought, 
to camp in this canyon. At least there would be water. We could not 
see it because of the thick brush that filled the draw, but we could 
hear it running. We thought there would be a place to camp in the 
ravine. In the morning we could get our bearings. 

When we reached the bottom it was almost dark. We were in 
brush so thick it was practically impassable. We thrashed through 
it for fifteen minutes or so and made no progress. It was now deep 
dusk and we were lost. I did not have the least idea which way north 
was. I looked up at the sky but it was filled with clouds. I looked for 
peaks, but every landmark was shut off from view. There was only 
the dark hulk of the canyon walls on both sides. I knew only that 
we were somewhere in the Cascades; but I could not have pointed 
to the direction of Mount Adams if my life had depended on it. 

We sat and talked. We were in a fix, but we were not panicky. As 
the dusk turned to darkness we said that perhaps our wisest course 
would be to sit on our packs and wait for dawn. The thought was op 
pressive, for we were tired and hungry, and a chill had swpt through 
the canyon. Without a fire, the night would be long and cold and 
depressing. We decided to have one more try at it. We must have 
fought the brush for a half-hour more and probably made 50 feet. 
By then the night was black. I was about ready to call it quits and 


to sit in the brush all night. We were getting nowhere, and exhaust 
ing ourselves in the process. 

I was in the lead; and as I strained to look ahead I saw a white 
streak a dozen paces away. I made for it, came up to it, and saw 
that it was a spit of white sand, free of brush. It was not more than 
ten feet square; but it was close to the creek that came down the 
ravine. And it was big enough for two boys. 

There we pitched our tent, built a fire, and cooked supper. The 
campfire lighted up this wild and desolate place and gave it friendli 
ness. I had been apprehensive at being lost and depressed at the 
thought of lying in the brush all night. Now that feeling disappeared 
and I was at ease. 

But that was temporary. As we sat eating our meal around the 
small campfire, I began to study our situation. We were literally 
hemmed in. There was no escape in the darkness. The brush had 
proved to be almost impassable. There was no trail. We were lost. 
I suddenly felt trapped. We were tight in the embrace of the dark 
ness and the brush. As I looked over my shoulder the surroundings 
began to take on a menacing aspect. The brush that hemmed us in 
on our small spit of sand seemed to me like long, dark fingers stretch 
ing out to crush us. The hulk of the mountain, which towered above 
us, seemed ready to swallow us. 

We sat there, as teen-age boys will, acting unconcerned and jovial 
even when fear clutched the heart. Suddenly out of the brush came 
the most frightening cry in the mountains the screech of a cougar. 
The cry was close by, so close that I thought the cougar would be 
on us any second. Shivers passed through my body. I think my hair 
stood up. Art s face looked white as a sheet. 

When I recovered my wits and reflected, our situation seemed 
hopeless. We were trapped. The brush was impassable. We could 
not escape over the 2ooo-foot barricade of the mountain. We could 
not even hide, for the brush was on three sides of us and it con 
cealed the cougar. 

The ten-foot spit of sand was our cage for the night. The situation 
of the zoo had been reversed. The cougar could roam at will and 


survey the victims cornered in the cage by the creek. He could 
stalk us and then pick us off, one by one, whenever he chose. He 
would probably wait until we were asleep and then spring on us. 

These were the fearful thoughts in my mind. Many times since 
I have awakened to find the tracks of a cougar not far from my bed 
roll or tent. But I did not know in those early days that a cougar 
is the most difficult of all animals to approach in the mountains and 
rarely attacks man. 

Now the cougar screeched again. It was a bloodcurdling screech 

a cry that pierces the heart and creates a state of near-panic to the 
uninitiated. The screech seemed to come from behind our pup tent. 
My fright was increased by the realization that we had no weapons, 
except jackknives. 

Then Art and I thought of the fire. All animals were supposed 
to be afraid of fire. If we kept one going and hugged it close, we d 
be safe. So we decided to build our fire as big as we could and feed 
it with wood all night. 

You get more than warmth from a campfire in the woods. It can 
transform a desolate ridge or canyon into a home. It drives away 
forebodings and worry. One who is nervous when sitting in a dark 
patch of woods relaxes when a campfire is burning. He draws near it, 
not for warmth but for friendship. It s an ally, a companion. It re 
inforces courage. It pulls men together, becoming a bond between 
them. And it helps cast off the apprehension of dangers lurking in 
the outer rim of darkness. 

Wood was our problem this night when we were lost. We went 
to the creek s edge and cautiously looked up and down it. We saw 
down timber along the shore not more than 25 feet away. Keeping 
close together, we anxiously waded the creek and dragged a quantity 
of limbs and logs close to our pup tent. We moved the fire as close 
to us as we dared and then retired. Art and I took turns replenishing 
the fire throughout the night. 

The screech of the cougar came again and again. Every time he 
screeched he seemed to be right next to the tent. I imagined I heard 


his catlike steps. I even imagined I felt his breath against the canvas 

The night was endless. I kept an open jackknife in my hand all 
night long. We got no real sleep until the first streak of dawn was in 
the sky. Then we slept hard for several hours and woke relieved that 
the menace of the night had passed. 

We cooked breakfast in warm sunshine on the spit of sand and 
then started the long pull out of the canyon. It took us most of 
the morning to get back on the ridge. The country to the north was 
new and strange. We had come from the south, so we worked in 
that direction. But it was not until midafternoon that we found a 
trail that bore our footprints of the day before. Then we were on 
the ridge, not much west of Fish Lake. So Art and I thought, but 
never knew for sure, that we had slept in the deep canyon of Panther 
Creek the night we were lost. 

Whenever I walked the trails as a boy, it never occurred to me 
that the wilderness itself might be a menace that it could swallow 
and hide a person for all time. Even when we were lost at the bottom 
of Panther Creek, the sense of being lost produced no panic. The 
only real menace seemed to be the bloodcurdling cry of the cougar 
that echoed and re-echoed in the narrow walls of the dark canyon. 
Yet, having been lost and having come out on my own, I do not 
think that the fear of losing my way in the unknown wilderness ever 
did enter my heart. 

My unconcern has been best expressed in a poem of Robert Frost 
which I recently saw for the first time in The Mind on the Wing by 
Herbert West: 

Have I not walked without an upward look 

Of caution under stars that very well 

Might not have missed me when they shot and fell? 

It was a risk I had to take and took. 

That philosophy can make exhilarating many experiences that hold 
a great potential of danger. With that philosophy man can find 
interest and adventure in unexplored canyons, even when he has lost 
his way and has no peak or compass to guide him. 

Chapter X c Tkz Campfi 


THERE was deviltry, practical woodcraft, and serious talk on these 
early pack trips. The tomfoolery was uninhibited. The woods are 
a good place for man or boy to shout and yell. Everyone accumulates 
steam that is hard to blow off. There is nothing quite so good for 
that ailment as a lusty bellow at the top of a mountain ridge or at 
the base of a towering cliff. There is no neighbor to be disturbed. 
There is no sensitive or fidgety person who might translate such 
sound into either a breach of the peace or a sign of approaching 

Our boyish shouts and shrieks echoed off the cliffs of the Cascades. 
We pushed each other from logs into pools of water. We poured cold 
water down unsuspecting necks. At dusk we stretched a rope or a 
vine ankle high across the path to the creek, so that our pal would fall 
flat on his face as he went to get water for cooking. When that hap 
pened, bedlam broke loose in the woods. 

This horseplay took even more robust forms. Once three or four 
of us were camped on the edge of Goose Prairie a few miles below 
Bumping Lake. It had been a miserable trip. We had had rain for 
over a day and the camp was soaked through. We dubbed the place 
Camp Rain-in-the-Face, for we had no tent and our blankets had 
absorbed all the drippings from the trees. Our bedrolls were soaked 
through. In the morning when we crawled out of our doused 
blankets, we looked as if we had been dragged in a lake behind a 

The consequence was a gloom over the camp which I decided to 
dispel. While I cooked breakfast, I planned my strategy. I served my 
companions, and while they were seated on the ground eating, I 
brought them coffee in big tin cups. When cleaning the rainbow 



trout cooked for this meal, I had reserved the heads, and when I 
poured the coffee I had put one head in each cup. 

I watched the faces as the boys ate their trout and pancake bread 
and sipped their coffee. One boy finished his plate, put it on the 
ground, took his tin cup of coffee in both hands and slowly drank 
it. Soon he took a deep draught. I saw his face turn white. The ex 
pression was one of shock, nausea, and disgust. Peering out of the 
coffee at the bottom of the cup were the cold, glassy eyes of a trout. 
He let loose with terrible imprecations. At once the calm of Goose 
Prairie was broken by a riot. The gloom that had settled over the 
camp was gone. 

Once when we were camped at Fish Lake, we took possession of 
the prospector s cabin that stood on its shore for some twenty years 
or more. It was raining and the cabin, though beginning to disinte 
grate, offered a measure of shelter. It was a one-room cabin, built 
at the time there was prospecting for copper on the range behind 
the lake. It had once been chinked with mud, but that had cracked 
and largely fallen out. It originally was furnished with chairs, bed, 
table, and cupboard that were plain but beautifully tooled. In the 
woods men are wantonly destructive of property such as cabins. It 
is hard to understand why. Those who are respectful of their neigh 
bors property at home take liberties with a cabin or shelter in the 
mountains. In fact they may tear it apart and use the wood for fuel. 
The lovely furniture of this prospector s cabin had been carried away 
or used for firewood. Hand-hewn cedar shingles had been torn off 
the roof for kindling. The floor had been removed. Finally the walls 
themselves were torn down and the logs used for campfires. Today 
not a trace of the structure remains. Man consumed it in its entirety, 
as a termite would do. 

When we took possession of this cabin on the rainy day in ques 
tion, its floor was gone and there were open places in the roof where 
some shingles had been removed. But the cabin was comparatively 
dry and the dirt floor, with a little cleaning up, was most presentable. 
More important, the cabin had a cookstove with a stovepipe running 
through the roof. 


We soon had the cabin cleaned and a fire going in the stove. There 
was good companionship. We d sleep warm. There was already the 
aroma of fresh coffee and trout from the stove. There was rain on 
the roof; there was contentment in our hearts. 

The stove at first drew extra well. Supper was not done, however, 
when it began to smoke. Nothing would effect a remedy; no matter 
how we fixed the drafts, the smoke rolled out. It poured through all 
the holes in the cabin. We opened the door, but we got no relief. 
We would step out into the darkness to dry our eyes and get our 
breath. But the rain which had started again would soon send us 
back in. Finally, we were overcome. 

Half-blinded by the smoke, coughing and sputtering, we were 
driven outdoors. When our eyes had dried and our lungs cleared, 
we surveyed the situation. There was smoke coming out the door, 
the holes in the roof, and a thousand cracks in the walls. But no 
smoke was coining out the chimney. I was hoisted up to see why. 
I found that someone had surreptitiously placed a saucepan over the 
top of the stovepipe. 

We looked around. There were only three of us the guilty one 
had disappeared. With shouts we set out to find him. He was not 
far from the cabin, behind a tree. We mauled him and rolled him 
and roughed him up. But the punishment was tempered with mercy 
as well as prudence. We did not throw him in the lake until the sun 
was high the next day. 

On these early trips we learned something of woodcraft. There is 
skill even in making a good bed of white fir boughs. The boughs 
should not be cut too long, since the branches should be no thicker 
than a pencil. The coarse, bare end of the bough should be pressed 
down toward the ground and be overlapped by another bough. If 
time and care are taken and a plentiful supply of boughs is used, a 
bed that is most fragrant and fairly soft can be built. Three layers 
should be used as a minimum; six layers are more than twice as good 
as three. 

We learned to chop a stick of wood by leaning it on the far side 


of the log, not on the near side. If it is put on the near side, the ax 
or hatchet may well follow through into the foot. If it is put on the 
far side, the force of the blow is into the ground. 

We found that a lump of pine rosin, neither too soft nor too 
brittle, made a bitter but fairly adequate chewing gum for dusty 

We discovered how to start a fire by rubbing sticks together. But 
it was too slow a process; and we were clumsy at it. We would do it 
only as a stunt. The Indians twirled sticks somewhat in the manner 
of a brace and bit. That was quite efficient. I never mastered their 

Starting fires outdoors without paper can be a drawn-out job, 
especially in wet weather. The first problem was to find a dry stick 
or chip. Theodore Winthrop, who crossed the Cascades in 1853, 
camped one August night in a storm not far south of the Klickitat 
Meadows. He found bits of punk and dry fuel in a natural fireplace 
hollowed in an ancient ponderosa pine. He built his fire inside the 
tree a dangerous thing to do, as he found out, for soon the whole 
tree was ablaze. 

A hollow tree, however, is a good place to find a dry chip with 
which to start a fire. More often than not we would have to chop 
such a chip from the inside of a small log. We would take the chip 
and with a sharp knife reduce it to shavings, leaving each shaving on 
the stick. Thus we would have a piece of wood fashioned like a 
comb. The comb of shavings would hold a flame for a few minutes 
and so serve the function of paper or dry leaves. With that as a base, 
we could use dry pine cones or bark, or any other light material, to 
get a sizable blaze going. Jack Nelson always called these chips "prayer 
sticks." Once I asked him why. "Well/ he replied, "you light them 
and then pray." For quick fires (and for all fires in damp weather) 
we would take the time to search out pieces of pitch wood. Then 
we would have a fire in a jiffy. 

Today there is the sheepherder stove which weighs about 40 
pounds and ties easily on the side of a pack horse. It has an oven 
and a draft at the rear. The lengths of stovepipe chimney telescope 


one into the other and go inside the stove for packing. The stove is 
about 29 by 14 by 8 inches. It can be put on stakes at any height 
desired above the ground. And a person can cook as well on it as 
on any wood stove at home. At least the pies, puddings, fish, and 
potatoes I have seen come out of its oven have tasted along the trail 
as fine as any I ever had in the city. 

In the early days when we carried all our equipment on our backs, 
we did our cooking over open fires. When it came to such food as 
beans, requiring long cooking, we would hang the kettle on a stick 
which was supported at either end by a forked stake. The stakes 
could be raised or lowered depending on the intensity and height of 
the fire and the rate of cooking desired. Flat rocks arranged in and 
around the fire would hold the coffee pot and small kettles for oat 
meal, prunes, and the like. The frying pan for bread and trout would 
be managed by hand or propped at an angle against a rock. 

There are few trees that shed rain throughout a hard storm of 
a day or two. Close examination will show that most evergreens turn 
up slightly at the end of their boughs. Those trees therefore drip 
"inside" in a hard rain. But there are occasional trees red fir, for 
example that shed water even though rain falls for three or four 
days. It may take a long search to find one, but there are such. The 
boughs of this tree will have tips that either are flat or turn down. 
And they shed water better if the tree leans slightly. A bedroll under 
such a tree will stay dry during any mountain rain. 

An Indian once told me, "White man make big fire and stay cold. 
Indian make small fire and stay warm." What he meant was that 
if he built a fire so small that he could squat on its edge and hold 
his hands over it, he could stay warm. There is wisdom, backed by 
centuries of experience from the mountains and the plains, behind 
that observation. But we youngsters were more romantic than wise. 
When our campfire was going and supper was cooking, we would 
start a bonfire near by. We d build a trench around it so that fire 
creeping through pine needles would not consume our camp while 
we slept. We d pile on logs and branches and watch the blaze mount 


higher and higher. The surrounding pine and fir trees would be 
illuminated and stand as dark curtains, reflecting the light of the fire. 
Above them sparks would go dancing toward the stars. Behind them 
would be the opaque darkness of the forest. 

That darkness became familiar to us. We walked the trails at night 
without fear. We knew the sounds of the woods: the creaking of a 
pine as its top moved in a night breeze; the screech of an owl; the 
crack of a stick as some porcupine or other inquisitive prowler care 
lessly scouted our camp; the howling of the coyote on a distant point 
of rock. When these interrupted the chorus of crickets or frogs from 
a near-by pond or marsh, we were not startled. They were as familiar 
to us as the sound of a horn above the drone of city traffic. The 
screech of the cougar was different; but we seldom heard him, and 
we came to learn that he, too, would not molest us. 

These fires at night brought cheer and fellowship. We would talk 
of the happenings of the day and of the plans for tomorrow; of the 
perplexing problems of school and of home; of the men of the valley 
whose examples we did not care to emulate. As the sparks rose to the 
tops of the trees and disappeared into the firmament, we would dream 
dreams that only boys can dream. 

Maybe some day I could take Gifford Pinchofs place. He helped 
create the Forest Service. I often saw its men in the mountains, 
riding the trails strong, long-legged rangers, clear-eyed, robust men. 
If I went to forestry school and learned all the knowledge of the 
woods, I too could be a ranger and from there work up to Pinchot s 
place. I could carry on his fight for conservation. He loved the 
mountains; so did I. 

Maybe I could be a reclamation engineer. There was the vast 
Moxee country east of Yakima, where the Rosa irrigation project now 
thrives. A lawyer got Mother to invest in a Moxee irrigation project 
all that was left from Father s estate after funeral expenses had been 
paid and our house was erected in Yakima. Everything was lost. 
Perhaps I could figure out a way of bringing clear, cold mountain 
water down to that desert land of the Moxee. 

Doug Corpron was sure he was going to be a doctor. Perhaps I 


would be a lawyer. I d often slip into the courtrooms of Yakima. 
Judge E. B. Preble presided in the State Superior Court, Judge Frank 
H. Rudkin in the Federal District Court. From a rear seat I would 
observe the trials. Judge Preble was a quiet, unobtrusive man. Judge 
Rudkin was a commanding figure, with a massive forehead and deep 
voice. The stillness seemed to be extra deep when he entered the 
courtroom. There seemed to be goodness in these judges. I sensed 
they knew where the truth lay and that no force on earth could 
deflect them from it. O. E. Bailey, an insurance man, had been to 
Washington, D.C. and seen the United States Supreme Court in 
session. He said the same was true of it. He said there was no appeal 
from its rulings except to God. 

I was not greatly impressed with some of the town lawyers, though 
I did not know them. Some whom I saw in action in the courtroom 
seemed either pompous or shifty. Some seemed to have snide tricks 
up their sleeves. The Indians would have called them fork-tongued. 
They did not seem to have truth in their hearts. I was a harsh critic 
and probably often unfair. Later I came to know men like George 
McAuley and Judge Thomas E. Grady. These were men with warm 
and spacious hearts and with deep insight into people. They saw 
more in law than a game of wits. But when I sat in the Yakima court 
rooms, listening to civil and criminal trials, I often vainly thought 
I could do better than the lawyers I saw in action. 

Maybe I should go into public life. There was Hiram Johnson in 
California and William Borah in Idaho. I could hear their booming 
voices way out in eastern Washington. They seemed to know the 
truth. They were not cowed by anyone. They were free, independent. 
They were clean, strong men like Gilford Pinchot. 

In those days Hiram Johnson seemed to me a Sir Lancelot on a 
crusade. He was crying out against railway opinions rendered by 
railroad judges and against the hold that corporate interests had on 
California. He campaigned for conservation, workmen s compensa 
tion, women s suffrage, and an eight-hour day for women. He drove 
grafters from legislative halls. He made one think that government 


was something a State should be as proud of as it is of its homes 
and schools, or of its rivers, trees, and mountains. 

Borah was crying out against the trusts and monopolies in sugar, 
steel, lumber, copper. He inveighed against the money trust. He 
opposed the concentration of financial power that made it possible 
for a few bankers to produce a panic or win an election or sway a 
legislature. He was for the income tax. He too was a symbol of good 
government and a foe of corruption. He stood on the side of the 

The story was that Borah had saved a Negro from being lynched. 
The man was in jail in a town not far from Boise. Borah got an 
engineer to take a locomotive out of the roundhouse at Boise late 
one night and run him over to this town. Borah barely got there 
in time. He ran to the jail where the mob was tearing down the door. 
Standing on a box, he talked. At first the rioters were sullen and 
threatening. Then, meek and shamefaced, they melted away into the 

There was a man, this Borah! A great lawyer, too! If I could only 
talk like him! 

These were the things we discussed around dozens of campfires on 
the high ridges above Yakima. It seemed, in fact, that I had to escape 
the town to see my personal problems more clearly. 

There was time for reflection in the solitude of the mountains. 
The roaring bonfire of the camp would draw out our innermost 
secrets and longings. Sometimes we would talk until only a glow 
of coals remained of a roaring fire. A crescent moon would appear 
above a distant peak. The long dark fingers of the pine and fir 
reached higher and higher in the sky as the fire died down, and the 
stars drew closer to the high shoulders of the Cascades. A brisk breeze 
would come down off some glacier of Adams or Rainier. A chill 
would sweep over the camp. Then we would know that we had put 
off sleep too long. 

Chapter XI Indian Philosopher 

WE NEVER saw many Indians on these early pack trips. Once in a 
while there would be some squaws, or "squars" as Clark of the Lewis 
and Clark expedition would have said, fishing for trout in the Big 
Klickitat. More often we would see squaws high in the mountains 
and off the Indian reservation, picking huckleberries. They would 
have a pack train of eight, ten, or twelve horses. Each horse would 
carry two five-gallon kerosene cans. They might be camped on one 
spot a week or more while they scoured the surrounding slopes for 
berries. Brad and I used to say that while these five-gallon John 
D. Rockefeller cans brought light to the people of far-away Asia, they 
also brought huckleberries to the Yakimas. 

The Indians of the Pacific Northwest held huckleberry festivals. 
These were ancient celebrations, in the nature of Thanksgiving. 
They had a religious character and were inaugurated with devotional 
chanting and drumbeating. Then the first berries picked were passed 
around and sampled. Coyote had decreed that no one should eat 
the berries before the service was over. If he did, there might be no 
crop another year. Feasting and merriment followed. Each Indian 
then was free to pick and eat. Usually the squaws did the work. 
Some berries were dried and used for winter food, though they were 
chiefly eaten fresh. They have always been important to the Indians, 
but they have been used even more extensively in modern than in 
ancient times. 

The squaws would shout and gesticulate whenever we stopped 
for huckleberries on a slope where they were picking. We never were 
sure what they meant. Brad often said they were telling us to clear 
out, that we were on their private domain. I told him I thought he 
was too severe in his judgment. Maybe they were warmhearted, hos- 



pitable women who were inviting us to dinner. Although it happened 
often, we never did find out what they had in mind. We did not 
understand their language, and we never entered their camp to 
ascertain whether an invitation had been extended. 

It was seldom that we met an Indian brave in the mountains. But 
there was one I met twice in the Tieton Basin. Though I spent many 
hours with him, I never knew his name. He was a full-blooded 
Yakima and proud of his race. The first time was one July morning 
when I was fifteen or sixteen. I believe it was Brad who was camped 
with me in the Basin for several days. He went downstream to fish; 
I went up the Tieton River. Here in a clearing I saw an Indian camp. 
A tepee was pitched. On scaffolds, constructed out of willow branches 
stretched between pine trees, salmon were drying. Several dogs 
sounded the alarm at my approach. A squaw and three children 
appeared. Then striding across the clearing toward me came the 

He resembled the picture I have since seen of Kamiakum, the 
most famous of all chiefs of the Yakimas. He was a large man, with 
a dark, massively square face, and a reflective look. He was tall for 
a Yakima, nearly six feet. He was probably in his late twenties. His 
walk was graceful more of a glide than a step. He had a spear in 
his hand. 

He greeted me with a smile and said, "Fishing?" 



"Yes, trout/ 7 

"You should catch salmon," he said. "They are much better. 
Come, I will show you some I have caught." 

He went back across the clearing to the scaffolds, with me at his 
heels. There he or his squaw had laid some 20 salmon out for drying. 
They were 20- to 4opound fish, split open and lying in the sun. The 
flies were bad, and the squaw had built a smudge of green willow. 
The fish would be partially smoked as well as dried. Later they would 
be packed on horses and taken down the valley to this Indian s home 
on the edge of the reservation. 


When it came to fishing, the Yakimas from time immemorial con 
centrated on salmon: Wik-a-nus. They and the other tribes in the 
Columbia River Basin leaned heavily on it for their food supply. 
What I saw that July day, Lewis and Clark had seen. When Clark 
visited the confluence of the Yakima and the Columbia on October 
17, 1805, he found the Yakima filled with salmon. The Indians had 
split their captured salmon open and were drying them on scaffolds 
in "great numbers." 

The salmon is hatched in fresh water, starts to the ocean soon after 
hatching, and returns to the same river four to six years later to spawn. 
It goes back to the stream where it was hatched and there completes 
the cycle of its life. I have seen them 400 miles from the ocean, high 
on the eastern slopes of the Cascades in a tributary of the Yakima so 
narrow I could jump it. These were 30- to 5opound salmon, bruised 
and battered from their long journey up the Columbia to the Yakima, 
and then up the Yakima into its tributaries and headwaters. 

The Yakimas and other Northwest Indians have spots where they 
have fished for salmon from time immemorial. There were three 
main places: Sunnyside Falls and Prosser Falls on the Yakima, and 
Celilo Falls on the Columbia. The natural falls at Sunnyside 
amounted to no more than a good riffle, but they have since been 
improved by the government. Both there and at Prosser the salmon 
are caught by spearing as they jump. At Celilo they are dipped with 
nets on long poles. 

There are of course legends about the salmon and these falls. The 
Bridge of the Gods, which long ago spanned the Columbia shortly 
above Bonneville, fell into the river, creating a dam which the salmon 
could not negotiate. Coyote saw the peril to the people who de 
pended so much on salmon for food. He went to work, clearing out 
a channel through the barricade so the salmon could once more seek 
the headwaters. Then to complete the job he went down the river 
and herded the salmon upstream through the channel. 

At times Coyote formed a dam to block the salmon. Thus, if he 
fell in love with a maiden and she refused to marry him, he might 
in revenge form falls that the salmon could not get over. He did this 


several times on some of the tributaries of the Columbia, but never 
on the Yakima. 

But Coyote was for the most part beneficent. He realized, for 
example, that the people would be greatly aided if the rivers had 
falls which the salmon must jump. For when the salmon are in the 
air, they are easier to spear or net. That is why Coyote constructed 
the falls at Sunnyside, Prosser, and Celilo. 

On this July morning I stood by the Indian s side admiring the 
salmon hanging on the scaffold. I turned and asked, "How did you 
catch them?" 

"With a spear/ he said. "Come, I will show you/ 
We walked up the Tieton to a grassy knoll by a deep pool. 
"You stand and watch," he said. "Salmon will come." 
Lewis and Clark, as they traveled the Columbia River Basin in 
1805, saw Indians fishing for salmon with spears. In the Journals, 
Clark describes the way the Shoshones of Idaho did it: They em 
ployed a gig or bone on a long pole; "about a foot from one End is 
a Strong String attached to the pole, this String is a little more than 
a foot long and is tied to the middle of a bone from 4 to 6 inches 
long, one end Sharp the other with a whole to fasten on the end 
of the pole with a beard [barb] to the large end, the [y] fasten this 
bone to one end & with the other, feel for the fish & turn and Strike 
them So hard that the bone passes through and Catches on the 
opposite Side, Slips off the End of the pole and holds the Center of 
the bone." 

This Yakima s spear was built in almost exactly that manner. It 
was made of fir, about five feet long and tapered at each end. A bone 
perhaps four inches long, with a sharp point and barb, fit snugly over 
one end of the spear. But the bone was detachable. A leather thong, 
tied one end to the bone and the other to the shaft, held the bone 
when it was detached. But the Indian did not fish in the Shoshone 
manner. He stood as motionless as a statue on the edge of the pool, 
his eyes never leaving the water at his feet, the spear poised in his 


right hand. The pool was four or five feet deep. The water was clear 

and smooth. 

I saw a flash in the pool. The spear struck. The next I knew the 
Indian had both hands on the shaft of the spear, lifting a salmon 
out of the water. The bone, which was in the salmon beyond the 
barb, had detached itself from the spear. The weight of the fish was 
on the leather thong that hung from the shaft. A 3opound salmon 
was thrashing at my feet. The Indian hit it with a club; a tremor or 
two passed through its body; then it was still. 

This fish had been as shiny as a new silver dollar when it came 
into the mouth of the Columbia from the Pacific Ocean 400 miles 
away. Now it was as dark as the Tieton s bottom. It was bruised and 
battered. Large gashes lacerated its skin. Hatched in this stream four 
to six years earlier, it had come back to its birthplace to spawn and 
die. It was short of its journey s end by not more than a few miles, 
or perhaps only a few rods, when it was killed. It had escaped the 
gill nets of the commercial fishermen at Astoria and Hood River on 
the Columbia, eluded the dip nets of the Indians at Celilo Falls, 
dodged their spears at Prosser and Sunnyside on the Yakima, and 
outwitted all natural enemies in the rivers. Yet man its most potent 
enemy from time immemorial was waiting in ambush at the destina 
tion toward which some instinct had directed it. 

But there is no place for romance when man is foraging for food. 
Other salmon would elude my Indian companion on the Tieton, 
skillful as he was. Nature was profligate with the supply of spawning 
stock. Enough would get through to assure perpetuation, even on the 

The Indian dressed the salmon and hung it in a willow tree. He 
returned to the edge of the pool where he had speared it. In half 
an hour he had two more. I watched him closely, but each time my 
eye was so slow that I saw only a flash. Yet in that split second he 
had seen the salmon, calculated the refraction of the water, and 
driven home his spear unerringly. 

Years later Roy Schaeffer told me of the even greater skill of a 
Nez Perce who fished the Wallowa River in eastern Oregon for 


salmon. This Nez Perce sat astride a horse, with a spear such as I 
have described, to one end of which a coil of rope was attached. He 
watched a pool thirty or more feet on the opposite side of the Wal- 
lowa River. When he saw a salmon dart into the pool, he let fly his 
spear. Before the spear had reached its target, he turned his horse and 
started away from the river. The spear would strike home, and the 
horse, continuing on its way, would drag the salmon from the river. 

I spent the whole day on the Tieton with my Indian friend. After 
he had speared three salmon, a thunderstorm came up and a light 
shower spattered the Basin. I think it was more an urge to loaf and 
talk than a desire to avoid the storm that led him to suggest that we 
seek shelter. So we stretched out in a thick stand of jack pine and 
waited the storm out. 

I asked him about rattlesnakes. He said that once the rattlesnake 
was a monster with three heads and three tails, each tail having 
many rattles. This giant rattler killed many people. Coyote, to save 
the people, cut off two heads and two tails. Now he can t hurt the 
people so much. I asked if there were rattlers in the Tieton Basin. 
He said he thought not, that they did not get up so high in the 
mountains. Then he told a strange tale which I later found in various 
forms in the lore of the Indians of the Pacific Northwest. 

A flood was coming to engulf the earth and wipe out its inhabi 
tants. The Spirit Chief, Tyhee, hastened to save his people. He came 
down from the heavens and appeared before a medicine man. He 
told this good man to shoot an arrow into a cloud near Mount 
Rainier, then to shoot a second arrow into the butt of the first arrow, 
and then another into the butt of the second, and so on until a chain 
of arrows reached the ground. The people and their animals were to 
climb up the arrows and escape the rising floodwaters. 

The medicine man did this; and the Yakimas climbed the chain 
of arrows to safety. Following them came the animals. As the medi 
cine man looked down from above, watching the animals climb the 
chain of arrows, he saw the rattlesnake bringing up the rear. After 
all the good animals had passed to safety, the medicine man broke 
the chain of arrows. The rattlesnake tumbled back into the flood- 


waters, which by then had reached the shoulders of Mount Rainier. 
That is why the rattlesnake is never found at high altitudes in this 

I told my Indian friend that we "boys had been told that the reason 
the rattlers were not found at these altitudes was that they were 
sensitive to cold and could not stand even the cool summer nights 
in the Cascades. 

He smiled and said, "That may be true. But that s not what my 
grandmother told me." 

I asked him if it were true about the animals climbing the chain 
of arrows. 

He smiled and asked, "Do you believe the story of Noah?" 

"Noah?" I asked. "Do you know about him?" 

"Oh, yes," he said. "The Fathers taught me that." 

My Indian friend knew of the mission on the Ahtanum. He had 
been to Catholic schools in the Lower Valley. He had finished high 
school. He owned some rich bottom land along the river, and for 
several years had tried to cultivate it. But he said he was not a very 
good farmer. The soil was ideal for truck farming and excellent crops 
could be raised. He was not expert at plowing and hoeing and irrigat 
ing. He tried to work hard. His mind wandered, however, and he 
longed to be riding the ridges, stalking a deer, or lying in wait on 
the Tieton for a salmon to dart into a pool. 

He had talked his problem over with the Father. The Father 
agreed that he should lease his land and follow in the footsteps of 
his ancestors. Now he had cattle on the range. When the chinook 
blew across the ridges, he would start his cattle across the foothills 
to the mountains. As the snows melted he would take them higher 
and higher. When the first snow fell, he would start the return to the 
foothills. Meanwhile he would spear salmon and kill deer on the 
reservation and put away food for the winter months. 

There was a silence, and then he said, "I do not know the onion, 
the tomato, the asparagus. I do know the salmon, the deer, the horse, 
and the steer. The Father says to do what I can do best. That is why 
I hunt and fish and ride the range." 

After another pause he said, "It takes many different trees and 


shrubs and grass to make a forest. It takes many kinds of animals to 
fill the woods. The bear, goat, cougar, coyote, deer, and elk are all 
different. Wouldn t it be bad if all the animals were alike? It takes 
many races to make the world. Wouldn t it be bad if all people were 
the same? My skin is brown; yours is white. You can do things I can t 
do. I can do things you can t do. Some of my people think we re 
better than the whites. They say that the white man gets strong when 
he has Indian blood in him. Some of your people think they are 
better than us Indians. Maybe so. But no white man can spear 
salmon better." 

I sat whittling and listening. The storm had not abated. Sheet 
lightning played across the skies and thunder echoed off Goose Egg 
Mountain and Kloochman Rock. There was a long silence. 

"Tell me some more of your fairy tales," I said. 

He replied as quickly as his spear had hit the darting salmon. "If 
you knew my grandmother, you would know that she would never 
tell fairy tales." But there was a twinkle in his eye. We both laughed. 

He was still for a few minutes; then he told me the story of the 
giant tick (Upsha) who had a contest with Coyote. It was a long, 
rambling tale. It ended with Coyote putting a curse on the tick, so 
that thereafter he would not be able to kill animals but could only 
crawl in their hair and suck their blood. 

I asked him about the Painted Rocks. There are several lava cliffs 
in eastern Washington bearing relics of ancient paintings. Some are 
on the west side of the Columbia about a mile or so above Vantage 
Ferry. The ones I knew the best were those at the gap that the 
Naches River wore through the hills just west of Yakima. There on 
smooth walls of black lava are picture writings in pigments of red, 
white, and yellow. They have lost some of their clarity and brilliance 
with time, but remnants remain. No one knows for sure what they 
mean, for the Yakimas had no written language. 

My Indian friend told me about the god of medicine that painted 
the rocks. And he told me the story painted on the rocks at the 
Naches gap: a tragic love story of Strong Heart and Morning Star 
who leaped to their deaths from the top of those palisades. 

"Tell me more," I said. 


"Only one more, and then I must go. If I talk with you, how can 
I get salmon for my family?" 

There was a roll of thunder far away to the south, sounding as if 
it came off the distant crags of Mount Adams. He looked up and 
said, "Do you know about that?" 

"About thunder?" I asked. 

He nodded. 

"No. Is there a story about thunder?" 

He told me a wondrous tale of the fight between Coyote and 
Thunder (Now We Na Kla). Thunder at one time was vengeful 
in this area, striking people down with fire and shaking the ground 
so hard that it trembled. People were so frightened they hardly dared 
enter the woods for deer or stand on the rocks for salmon. The story 
of how Coyote mastered Thunder was intricate. It ended with 
Coyote holding him to the ground and beating him with rocks and 
clubs. Then Coyote put a curse on him: he could thunder only on 
hot days; he could flash his lightning in the sky but could not kill the 

My friend smiled and said, "Lightning seldom does damage in our 
country, as you know. You see, Coyote really is our friend." 

By then the sun was gone. We returned to the river and parted. 
He gave me a big-brother slap on the back. I watched him almost 
reverently as he worked his way noiselessly through the brush. I slept 
that night on a bed of white fir boughs at the foot of Kloochman 
Rock, dreaming of a friendly Indian that had stepped right out of a 
page of one of James Fenimore Cooper s tales. 

I did not see my friend again that trip, since we broke camp early 
in the morning and headed for the Indian Creek Trail that leads to 
the high lake country. I was back in the Tieton Basin, however, early 
in July the following year. We had come down the trail of the South 
Fork and were camping in the Basin for our last night out. 

It was early afternoon and I had gone up the Tieton to catch a 
mess of trout for supper. I came across a camp Cub Scouts, I be 
lieve. The boys were allowed to go in swimming in one particular 


section of the river. Here the water was not over two or three feet 
deep; and ropes had been stretched above and below the section 
not only to mark it but also to add to its safety. 

There were a number of boys in the water. Nearest me was a lad 
of ten or eleven who was standing up to his waist. He was fat and 
chunky, and timid about the river. Suddenly he let out a blood 
curdling yell and dashed for the bank of the river as fast as the rough 
bottom and his tender feet would allow. 

I stopped him and asked what was wrong. There was panic in his 
face. Something had been after him. I asked him what. He said 
something slimy had tried to catch him by the leg. 

I heard a chuckle and looked around. Here was my Indian friend 
of the previous summer. Making a wavy motion with his hand he 
said, "A salmon swam between his legs and slapped him as he went 
through/ By then the lad, still terrified, was running back to camp. 
He was the only one who saw no humor in the episode. 

My Indian friend and I sat down to visit. He said the salmon were 
running strong in the Tieton; that he had several dozen drying 
already. I screwed up my courage and inquired: 

"Could you teach me how to spear a salmon?" 

My heart overran with joy when he said he would. He took a green, 
fir bough five or six feet long. He peeled and scraped it until it was 
smooth; he tapered it at each end. He had an extra tip made of deer 
bone and an extra leather thong to fasten the tip to the shaft. He 
apparently carried these as emergency supplies. He soon had the 
shaft fitted into the socket of the bone and the thong tied fast to the 
bone and the shaft. 

We went along the Tieton until we came to a likely pool. He put 
my spear in the water, showing how it appeared to be broken and 
saying I must therefore aim several inches above or beyond where 
the salmon seemed to be. We stood still as statues. He had my spear 
poised. My heart pounded with the excitement of the moment. Soon 
there was a flash and my spear in his skilled hands lifted a salmon. 

I could hardly wait to try my own hand. He gave me the spear 
and told me to wait at this pool. He went upstream. I felt more 


comfortable with him around the bend of the river. His expert eye 
on my amateurish performance would be most embarrassing. 

I waited, my spear poised to strike, my eyes were on the water. 
Minutes passed. Then there was a flash. My spear drove home; but 
I hit only the bottom of the Tieton. I readjusted the bone tip and 
waited again. In a half-hour or so there was another flash and my 
spear hit the water. Once more I speared the bottom of the Tieton. 
Again it happened and again. 

I decided I needed more instruction. So I went upstream a quarter- 
mile or so and found my friend. He had speared three salmon since 
I saw him. I stayed with him for about an hour, watching him spear 
two more. By then I thought I knew the technique. So I went up 
stream and found water that seemed ideal. 

Here was a pool with a sandy bottom where a salmon could be 
easily spotted. There was brush on each side which made handling 
the spear difficult; but there was a log across the river at the head 
of the pool, and above the log a great deal of driftwood had collected. 
The pile of brush resembled a beaver dam except that the pool was 
on the downstream side. I worked my way out on the log until I 
was over the middle of the stream. I crouched on the log, my spear 
lifted in my right hand. I watched the water like a hawk. The pool 
was about five feet deep. It was a dozen feet across and extended 
above the log about twenty feet. From my vantage point it was easy 
to see any fish that entered the pool. 

I had not been on the log many minutes before a salmon darted in. 
I drove the spear down towards him with all my strength so much 
that I lunged right into the water. 

In those days I was still frightened in deep water, let alone under 
it. I couldn t swim; and once immersed my legs became rigid. I had 
dropped the spear as I fell, and I grabbed for overhanging brush. 
I caught hold of some willows and pulled myself to shore, shivering 
and shaking. 

I looked across the river. My Indian friend was doubled up with 
laughter. He had retrieved my spear, and he shouted to ask if I 
wanted it back. I finally saw the humor of the situation, but I made 


a gesture indicating I never wanted to see the spear again. I shouted 
thanks for all he had done and started for camp to dry out. I had 
gone about 50 yards or so when I heard a yell. I turned around and 
there was my friend holding up the biggest salmon yet. It came from 
the pool in which I had been doused. 

That night as I lay under the blankets listening to the wind in the 
tops of the pine, I thought about these Indians. Some called them 
an inferior race. Perhaps my friend would not do so well in my Latin 
class, but in the woods he was a champion who walked in the foot 
steps of great ancestors. He was from a race that lived in a world 
full of spirits. Their gods were exacting and revengeful. Every mani 
festation of nature had a hidden meaning. His was a race trained to 
conceal emotion and to develop an impenetrable exterior. My friend 
had these qualities. But under the influence of the new environment 
church, school, and the community at large they had acquired a 
different significance. They were still present, though not dominant. 
Like his color, they were qualities that gave flavor to his personality. 
They were vestiges of culture from an ancient day. They gave him 
a suggestion of mysticism, as the trace of sage in the Tieton gave it 
a touch of enchantment. 

This Indian was justly proud of his race; he had discovered an 
important secret of success. He knew that as a Douglas fir cannot 
possibly become a cedar or a sugar pine, similarly he could not be 
recast into another image. He could be only himself. Once a man 
accepts that fact, his yearnings become geared to his capacities. He 
knows his strength as well as his limitations. He may be unknown 
and unsung; but being wise, he has found the road to contentment. 
Like the mountain laurel, or snowberry, or sage, he pretends to be 
no more than he is. By being just what he is, and no more, he con 
tributes a unique and distinct flavor to his community. He is not 
likely to have a neurosis that produces physical ailment or social 
maladjustment. Thus did I have a lesson in philosophy. 

Chapter XII Sh&fhcrdcrs 

BILLY McGurriE is a Scot with the love of heather and bluebells in 
his heart. He s a thin, lean man of dark complexion, with sharp fea 
tures, sparse hair, and a twinkle in his eye. He was born and raised in 
Scotland. When a young man the lure of America caught him. He 
got his passage. And at long last the boat steamed into Ellis Island. 
There was excitement and the warm glow of hospitality on arrival. 
There in New York harbor stood the Statue of Liberty, on its 
pedestal the wonderful message of welcome: 

Give me your tired, your poor, 

Your huddled masses yearning to be free 

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me; 

I lift my lamp beside the golden door. 

Billy knew that he was welcome; he was the poor. One of seven 
children, he was born at Lagginmoore in Wigtownshire. He wanted 
to see the world. When he left Ellis Island he had ten dollars in his 
pocket. His departure from Scotland had made him sad; he had been 
seasick all the way across. Now he was so homesick that he could not 
bear to leave the boat, his last contact with home. 

I once asked him, "Why did you leave the boat, Billy, if you felt 
that way?" 

Billy replied, "They wyled me oot o* steerage wi 7 a bowlfu o 

Billy ended up in Yakima. "Holstein" Davis, who owned a dairy 
ranch in the Moxee, saw Billy the day he arrived and offered him a 
job milking cows. But, Billy s folks had dairy cows in Scotland, and 
he replied, "I cam five thoosan miles tae get awa 7 frae lookin a coo 
i the face." 

The following day Billy hired out as a sheepherder to Andy 



Wilson. By the following August he was in the high basins under 
Mount Rainier. This land became a new home to him. Here was 
the finest welcome possible: heather and bluebells and sunsets over 
rocky crags. 

Billy herded sheep for three years. Then he entered partnership 
with Wilson, and later with Sandy McGee. At one time they owned 
20,000 sheep. Over the years, all of the valleys, meadows, and ridges 
west and north of the Klickitat became familiar to him. They were 
to Billy the Scotland of America; they became his second love. His 
heart was always light as he tramped the high basins under Mount 
Adams. He found humor in the vicissitudes of sheepherding. He 
brought back to the valley tall tales of his exploits. 

Billy is a storyteller. His yarns have the unique flavor of a brogue, 
which with him has a wide range. One evening at Double K Ranch, 
Goose Prairie, Washington, we were before the fire listening to Billy 
roll the r s. Jack Nelson leaned over to me and whispered, "Billy s 
got a marble in his throat." And so he has. 

Billy was aggressive in coming to the defense of the Scotch when 
an issue was made as to their parsimony. I asked him the reason for 
it and he told me his story of Jock McRae: 

"One summer nicht John Duncan McRae, a freen o mine, and I 
went into Spokane, dirty and thirsty, from a weary job a loading 
sheep. We went into a pub and had a drink. As we came oot we met 
up with a Salvation Army street corner meetin . As we paused there 
a moment, a Salvation Army lassie with a tamboreene walked up to 
Jock for a donation. What dae ye want, lassie? Jock asked. Some 
money for the Lord/ she replied. With a twinkle in his eyes, Jock 
countered, How old are ye, lassie? Eighteen/ was her answer. Jock 
said, Well, I am eighty-seven and will be seein the Lord lang afore 
ye and I ll just gie him the penney myselV " 

There was a pause and then Jack said, "It all goes to show that the 
Scotchman isn t stingy; he s just cautious." 

Bears have long been an obsession with Billy. He came across 
many such marauders during his sheepherding days. They gorged 
on his sheep and caused him much damage. Once a bear tastes sheep 


he becomes a killer. He raids the bands repeatedly. His appetite is 

never satisfied. Such a bear becomes the foremost enemy of the 


Billy has many bear stories. He tells how he caught one running 
up a tree, grabbed him by the hind legs, and held him until Sandy 
McGee got a gun. But the story I like best is Billy s tale of the bear 
and the Irishman: 

"I was tendin sheep in the Mount Adams country a wheen years 
syne when Irish Dick, one o the maist strappin an strangest herds 
I ever kent, caught a wee black cub bear. The neist time Irish Dick 
gaed tae the toon o Toppenish what lies by the water on the Indian 
Reservation, he brocht the cub wi him an cowpit it off tae a saloon 
keeper for a quart o whuskey. Dick himsel was nae teetotaller. 

"The new owner tied the bear tae a post for a wheen years but 
ae dae the bear brak awa an startit oot tae see the toon. As he 
daunered doon the middle o the main street wi his chain danglin 
frae his thrapple, a the toonsfolk ran awa oot o his sicht and hid 
themsers, a but Irish Dick who happened tae be in the toon that 
dae and was roarin fon frae ower mony drams o whuskey. Irish Dick 
was nae a bit feart o his auld frien , sae he grabbit the cub by the 
back o his thrapple an ca ed oot Whoa/ But the bear either didna 
ken his auld frien or was scunnered o him for havin troked him 
intae slavery for a bottle of whuskey. 

"Nae matter the cause, the mon an the beast were sune rowin 
aboot i the stoor an glaur o that Indian Reservation toon, first tare 
an then thither on tap. Sure the place o the tulzie was cloudit wi 
stoor an only the angry pechin o the bear an the Irishman s dirlin 
voice could be heard. 

"At laist, when the noise stoppit an the stoor had a faun doon, 
the folk wha had hid themsel s frae the bear keekit oot an saw the 
bear tied like a grumphic wi Irish Dick sittin on tap, his body 
streamin wi bluid, an nakit for a but his heavy buits. The bear 
was pit back tae his post no muckle the waur for his fecht, but Irish 
Dick, his body bleedin an torn, wad hae nae doctor s aid." 


"What ever happened to Irish Dick?" I asked. "Did he die of his 
wounds? 7 

"Fifteen years aifter the braw auld Irishmen froze tae his death 
i a box caur," Billy replied. 

Billy had conquered all the adversities of the Cascades in fair 
weather and in foul. But his greatest triumph was when he made 
his Buick run on mutton tallow. It s a true story; and this is the way 
Billy told it to me: 

"It was a dae i the autumn o* 1915 when the win blew cauld wi 
angry sooch. Motor caurs were gey few an clattering an horses were 
as frichtit o them as the Indians lange syne were feart o the 
West ard march o the white man. Roads were fit alone for four- 
fitted beasties that dinna min muckle holes and sand. 

"It was in su a like dae that my auld frien Sandy McGee, ma 
wife, an masel startit oot i ma new Buick caur up intil the Klickitat 
country which lies couthie again the sprawlin sides of Mount 
Adams. We were hurlin up tae the sheilin s on the moors whar ma 
sheep feed at the back end o the year. 

"As we traipsit alang about seventy-five miles frae home and the 
nearest repair shop in Yakima, what did we dae but strike a muckle 
big stane whit brak the oil pump off ma brent-new Buick, an a the 
oil i the ceelinders cam skalin oot. Bein o pioneer stock I had tae 
ca upon the gear to han 7 so I gaed aff on fit tae ma reist sheep 
sheilin aboot twa miles awa whaur I found some car board an oot 
o* it I cut a piece that fittit in whaur the missin* oil pump was sup 
posed tae be. Lookin aroon I found an auld rubber boot that had 
been thrown awa , frae which I made a gasket to seal the bottom. 
Then, wi twine pu d oot o flour sacks, I made the job strang. Then 
I prayed tae the Almighty it was ticht an firm eneuch tae haud. 

"After a this I killed a sheep, fried the tallow oot i a huggie ower 
a campfire, and timmed it oot into a wheen auld cans, aye found 
in thae times wherever the herds had been bidin a while. As tomato, 
pea, sauerkraut, and coffee cans were filled wi hot tallow, I kept 
the fat meltit by puttin them neist the fire. But the tallow frae the 
can I first filled, which I believe was labeled Alaska Red Salmon, 


was timmed ower the tap o 7 ma reinforced car board floor and 
allowed tae cool and harden, an f orbye tae fill the cracks and crannies 
ma hasty work had left. 

"When a 7 the cans were filled wf hot tallow, I timmed it quickly 
intae the crankcase and we startit back doon the twistin mountain 
roads and got hame with nae mair fash at a*. 

"Of course, the Buick Company made a muckle ado aboot the 
event. The story was tell t in newspapers and magazines a ower 
the land. I was even offert tae travel wi 7 a expenses paid tae for 
awa* toons, but nane o that for me. I had tae bide here and herd 
ma sheep." 

Billy, like many a Scot from the old land, is a ubiquitous character. 
While he adjusted himself to the ways of his adopted country, he re 
tained not only his Scottish way of speech but also the hard granite 
of Scottish independence and integrity. That is the real flavor he 
brought to his community. Billy is the king of all sheepherders. No 
more jovial, lighthearted, friendly man ever walked the Cascades. I 
did not know him when I traveled the trails as a boy. I met him in 
later years when I revisited the Cascades. He has no counterpart 
among sheepmen that I ever knew. 

One night at Billy s home in Yakima I asked him why he had 
turned to sheepherding when he arrived in Yakima. There was a 
twinkle in his eye as he replied, "I was born glowerin" at a lamb, an 
Ayshire coo, and a bill. I likit the lammie best." 

Even in the early days there were cattlemen in the mountains, es 
pecially in and around Conrad Meadows and the Tieton. But we 
seldom saw them and rarely had any contact with them. It was the 
sheepherders whom we came to know. They were a motley crowd. 

The sheepherders wintered in Yakima. There were wild yarns 
about them. Johnny Glenn, of Naches tells one that is typical: Two 
sheepherders holed up in a rooming house in Yakima for the winter. 
They consumed such quantities of liquor they became "snaky." One 
morning one of them was walking down Yakima Avenue. A friend 


stopped him and said, "Say, Joe, do you know that your buddy is 
up there at the rooming house, suffering from delirium tremens?" 

"Sure, I know it," replied Joe. "When I left a little while ago, I 
saw the snakes crawling all over him/ 

We never ran into alcoholic sheepherders. But we did encounter 
a few odd ones. They started with their bands of sheep on the lower 
foothills in March or early April. By August they were well up the 
high ridges of the Cascades, where they stayed until the first snow. 
It was in these remote places we came across them. 

Each sheep outfit had a herder and a packer. The herder stayed 
with the sheep all the time. The packer traveled back and forth be 
tween a base camp and the sheep camp, bearing food and other sup 
plies to the herder. When in camp with the herder he usually did 
the cooking, tended the pack string, and did the other chores. The 
common story was that the packer was sent along to keep the herder 
from going crazy. The tales were tall about herders who finally 
cracked under the incessant ba-a-a, ba-a-a, ba-a-a. Some herders after 
weeks alone with the sheep ended up daffy some muttering to them 
selves; others becoming mute with a glazed look in their eyes; some 
wandering aimlessly in the woods with loss of memory; others queer 
and affected, shunning the company of people as they retired to some 
lodginghouse in the valley for the winter. 

I never verified these stories. A packer would tell us that his herder 
was "nuts/ But those statements had to be taken with salt, since 
packer and herder were often on unfriendly terms. Yet the stories 

Gwen T. Coffin, editor of the Chieftain, weekly newspaper of En 
terprise, Oregon, recently gave the legend quite a twist. He wrote: 

We hired out one time for a summer s job herding sheep out in the 
good old Uncompahgre country, Colorado. The boss took us out about 40 
miles from nowhere, gave us a few rudimentary instructions on how to 
get along with sheep, and left us alone with about 1 500 of the bawling 
animals. After about 48 hours with nobody to talk to and no sound except 
the baaing of sheep, we thought we were going loco. So we ditched the 
whole business, hooked a ride to town and forthwith cancelled any ideas 
for further association with sheep. 


And so, said Gwen, a person with that experience can understand 
and appreciate the plight of the sheepherder depicted in the follow 
ing item from the Tribune of Lewiston, Idaho: 

Whoever heard of a cougar herding sheep? Wendell Stickney swears he 
saw one. 

Stickney, a herder employed by Jack Titus, Snake River grower, said he 
was hiking up a trail to Lightning Creek. He saw about 35 sheep 
approaching him on the trail. 

Behind them, he insists, was a cougar, an animal notorious as a sheep 
killer. The big cat, the herder said, with all the skill of a trained dog, 
ambled behind the herd. He cuffed those who got out of line, and moved 
back and forth behind the group to keep stragglers moving. 

Stickney said he hid behind a tree until the animals had passed. 

Then he shot the cougar with a pistol. 

Gwen summed it up as follows: "Yup, we quit the sheepherding 
business before we saw cougars herding any of the animals/ 

The mental stability of the sheepherders was of no concern to us 
when we walked the trails with our horseshoe packs. We eagerly 
sought dinner invitations from them regardless of their sanity; for 
the food they served was a relief from our monotonous diet. 

We made bread by cooking batter in a frying pan. The bread was 
in effect a hot cake an inch or more thick. It was filling, if not nour 
ishing. But after the first day or two in the woods it was not appe 

Beanis, baked in a pot with pork and dark molasses, can be the 
queen of all dishes, in the woods or anywhere else. But beans boiled, 
with only salt added, can quickly acquire a unique monotony. 

There can be no finer breakfast dish than oatmeal served with 
sugar and thick cream. Oatmeal served with saccharin and powdered 
milk is still fair. But when oatmeal carries the burden of breakfast 
and also pinch-hits for potatoes at suppertime, it begins to lose its 

At a housewife s touch, dried prunes or dried apples can be trans 
formed into delicacies. But when they are boiled and eaten hot day. 


after day, or munched in dried condition, they cease to be food in 
about a week. From then on they have only one value, and that is 

Powdered eggs at the hands of a skilled chef can be made the base 
for tasty dishes. But powdered eggs under our inexpert management 
were always pasty and flat. We held them in contempt and took 
them along only because the food we could carry in a horseshoe pack 
was limited. 

Trout always helped. But trout is not filling like beef, mutton, 
venison, or grouse. It takes red meat to give quick energy for 
grueling outdoor work. The early chronicles of the West often relate 
how weak and famished men drank the warm blood of freshly killed 
deer, mountain goats, or sheep to restore their sagging energies. We 
were never as hard pressed as that. A kettle of beans would put us 
over any mountain. But a week on the trails would make us starved 
for meat and for sweets. There is where the sheepherders came in; 
and they never failed us. 

The sheepherders invariably served mutton in the dinners they 
cooked for us. Sometimes it was mutton freshly slaughtered for the 
occasion. The stomach of a growing boy is a bottomless pit; and if, 
being accustomed to a meat diet, he is put on starches for a week, 
he ll wolf any meat that is put in front of him. At least that was our 

These sheep camp dinners always included potatoes, sometimes 
cooked sheepherder style (steamed with bacon and onions), but usually 
boiled. We would douse them with thick slices of butter and pow 
der them with salt and pepper. We ravenously devoured all vege 
tables, for the lowly bean was the only one in our packs. 

Sometimes the sheepherder would serve slices of soft white bread 
brought in by a pack train from a base camp miles below in the val 
ley. More often than not he would have jelly and jam and syrup; and 
we used them without restraint. Dessert would sometimes be cheese 
and crackers and coffee. More often than not it would be fruit from 
a tin can with gingersnaps or chocolate cookies. At these meals we 
were gluttons, stuffing ourselves and making up in one meal for all 


we d missed in our meals along the trail. Then we d throw logs on 
the fire and sit and talk far into the night. 

During these early days I met one sheepherder whom I thought 
was crazy. He was a chap called Frenchy. The packer invited my 
brother and me to dinner one July afternoon when we were travel 
ing the Conrad Creek Trail above Conrad Meadows. We gladly ac 
cepted. We pitched our pup tent not far from the sheep camp and 
after a respectful interlude put in our appearance. We were scrubbed 
and clean and ready to eat packer and herder out of their larder. 

We were fully two hours ahead of suppertime. The packer pre 
pared a late one, timing it for the hour of darkness when the sheep 
at last bedded down. Only then would the herder leave them. That 
would be about 8 o clock this July night. And eight o clock is a late 
dinner hour in the mountains. 

By eight the herder had not come. He had not appeared at eight- 
thirty. It was getting on to nine and the packer said we might just as 
well eat. After we had started the herder appeared. 

He was a short stocky man with a gray Vandyke beard. He spoke 
with an accent. As he walked into the circle of light of the campfire 
he said with a note of impatience in his voice, "Who dees boys?" 

The packer explained that he had invited us to dinner, that we 
were camped in the meadows, that we brought fresh news of the out 
side world, and so on. 

There was a pause, and Frenchy said, "Bah." 

The packer handed him a plate stacked high with food. Frenchy 
knocked it from his hands onto the ground. "Where s de hot milk?" 
asked Frenchy. 

"On the back of the stove," said the packer. Frenchy took the ket 
tle of hot milk, tore off a third of a loaf of bread, dunked the bread 
in the milk, and wolfed it in silence. Then he drained the last of the 
milk from the kettle, threw the kettle to the ground, blew first one 
nostril and then another with his fingers, and stalked off into the 

I looked at my brother; he looked at me. We had never up to then 


failed to receive a royal welcome in any camp in the mountains. We 
had never in town or on the trail had such a rude host. There was 
silence for a while and then I asked, "Where d he go? 7 

To bed/ said the packer. 

"Did we insult him?" I inquired. 

"Naw, he s nuts/ said the packer. Tact of the matter is, he may 
be getting better. Those are the first words he s spoke to me in many 
a day. You guys stick around and Frenchy may talk his head off. The 
dirty little rat, I may knock his snooty little head off soon." 

We soon retired, hoping to get up early and see Frenchy. Though 
we were up before the sun, Frenchy was gone. He apparently had 
got up in the dark, before dawn. He had cooked himself breakfast 
and rejoined the sheep as they were beginning to stir. 

The packer told us about Frenchy at breakfast. Frenchy was a 
Basque from Oregon. He and the packer had had many quarrels, the 
most recent one over an Indian squaw. The night before our arrival 
Frenchy had drawn a knife on the packer. The packer, a rangy Texan, 
had knocked Frenchy out. The bad blood remained between them. 
The packer was leaving for good. As we were doing the dishes he 
said, "Frenchy ain t going to kill this packer. But I would like to 
poke the fat little pig again, just for fun and good luck." 

When our packs were rolled and tied and we were ready for the 
trail, the packer had his string of horses partly saddled. We watched 
him until he finished. Then he swung into the saddle and started 
south on the trail that led back to the Ahtanum. We waved good-by. 
Sombrero in hand he shouted, "Look out for those damn sheep- 
herders. They re mostly nuts." 

We turned west on the trail that led to the Goat Rocks. We had 
not gone a half-mile when we saw sheep slowly working their way 
up the slopes to the north. Below them on a rock by the trail sat 
Frenchy. His 30-30, the famous sheepherders gun, lay across his 
knees. He apparently did not see or hear us until we were close to 
him. He sprang to his feet, his rifle in one hand, his eyes ablaze. He 
quickly turned on his heel and, shouting some imprecation, started up 
the slope toward the sheep. We quickened our pace and looked over 


our shoulders at him as we swung along the trail with our packs. I 
do not think we felt at ease until we were high on the shoulders of 
Goat Rocks under the shadow of Tieton Peak and Devils Horns. 

Brad and I once came across an unsanitary sheepherder who was 
camped above Conrad Meadows. It was late afternoon when we spied 
the smoke from his camp on the eastern edge of a small clearing. 
This sheepherder had left his dogs to guard the sheep, while he re 
turned to camp to cook an early dinner his first meal since daybreak. 

He was on his knees kneading sourdough bread in a pan when we 
walked into camp. He greeted us effusively and told us we must stay 
to dinner. We accepted at once, tossed our horseshoe packs to the 
ground, and sat on them to rest and watch the sourdough operation. 

Brad and I soon doubted the wisdom of our quick acceptance, for 
we saw at once that the man s hands were filthy. He used his fingers 
to blow his nose, first one nostril, then the other, followed by a wip 
ing of his hands on his overalls. Then he would return to the 

Brad and I looked at each other with horror. But retreat never got 
beyond a faint suggestion in our minds. The lure of a bounteous 
dinner in a sheep camp after a week of beans, oatmeal, powdered 
eggs, frying-pan bread, trout, and dried prunes, was too great. We de 
cided that the cooking would probably kill all the germs. And so we 
laid our fir bough beds in an adjoining grove and pitched our pup 
tent. We washed and scrubbed extra hard, I think, as a sort of com 
pensation for the unsanitary habits of our host. 

The dinner was one of the best I ever ate. 

Visitors were welcome in the sheep camps because the herders were 
lonely men. From June to October they would see few outsiders. 
They longed for news of the outside world; they usually longed for 
companionship. We would sit and talk to them far into the night. 
Our talk ran not so much to the mountains and their mysteries as 
to the affairs of men in Yakima, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Lon 
don, and Berlin. As a result we learned little of the mountains from 
these sheepherders. 


Occasionally one would tell us how he dealt with a marauding 
bear or coyote or how he lost some sheep from eating a poisonous 
plant. He frequently would relate his fishing exploits. 

It seemed that the sheepherders we met were poorly equipped for 
trout fishing. I do not remember seeing a fly, bait, or casting rod in 
any sheep camp high in the mountains. The sheepherder always 
had hooks and some line; and he cut a willow for his rod. With grass 
hoppers, periwinkles, or frogs for bait, his needs sometimes would be 
satisfied. But those crude methods did not always deceive the wily 
trout. Then the sheepherder would seek our advice. We would give 
him flies and leaders and explain their use as best we could. We 
would tell him about likely pools and lakes on his itinerary. I think 
we told the sheepherders more about the mountains than we learned 
from them. And we also conducted seminars in current events around 
their camp fires. 

It was late summer in 1914. I was fifteen and entering my junior 
year in high school that fall. The apples in the Yakima Valley or 
chards had been thinned. The cherry, apricot, peach, and pear crops 
had been picked. Apples were yet to come and school would soon 
open. I saw a chance to get away for a week and took it. 

As I was rolling up my horseshoe pack, I had an idea. I would be 
gone a week or more. I planned to enter the Cascades through the 
Naches and the Tieton and go back into the lake country beyond 
Cowlitz Pass. I would most likely run into a sheepherder in that re 
gion, for sheep by this time would be getting close to the highest 
ridges. The papers carried big news news of war in Europe. So I 
decided to take recent issues of the Yakima Daily Republic with me. I 
put several in with my blankets and also a recent issue of the weekly 
magazine, The Outlook. 

A few days later I was skirting a meadow on the east side of Cow 
litz Pass when I saw fresh sheep droppings. I stopped several times 
to listen for the barking of a dog; I kept looking for the curling smoke 
of a campfire. There was not a sign of life. There was no sound ex 
cept the chatter of a red squirrel at the top of a balsam fir near the 
trail s edge. So I decided to scout the southern edge of the meadow. 


It was about two hours before sundown and I did not want to miss 
a sheep camp. 

I left the trail and went south across the meadow. I had almost 
reached what seemed to be its southern edge when out of a small 
grove of fir came a half-dozen sheep dogs. They sounded like a hun 
dred demons. My instinct was to retreat. But reason replied in the 
negative. So with quivering flesh but to outward appearances with 
firm steps and steady voice, I met them and spoke to them, walking 
all the while toward the clump of balsam fir out of which they had 
raced. They kept circling, yapping at my heels. But some of the 
viciousness had disappeared from their barkings. Their protest at my 
approach was now more formal than aggressive. Then came the voice 
of their master. He had emerged from the clump of fir and gave a 
command intelligible only to him and to them. They became silent, 
and one beautiful Australian sheep dog jumped and licked at my 

The sheepherder who greeted me was a middle-aged man with a 
full brown beard. His eyes were blue and kindly. His face was 
bronzed, and when he took off his hat I could see that his tan ran 
up his massive forehead and into the bald spot on the top of his 
head. He looked a little as I imagined Walt Whitman must have 
looked. This man was tall, long-legged, long-armed, a wiry, rangy 
man who appeared to be equal to any challenge of the mountains. 
His voice was resonant, with powerful carrying qualities even in ordi 
nary conversation. It was a voice that came back to me four years 
later as I drilled and marched in the uniform of the United States 

He greeted me with "Hi ya"; and extended a hand as gnarled and 
tough as the alpine fir that dotted the ridges to the west. He invited 
me to his camp. It was on the far side of the grove of fir and faced 
the edge of a smaller meadow I 1 had not seen from the trail. Firewood 
had been split and piled near his tent. There was a crude table made 
of small pine and fir logs. 

As I walked into camp, two or three camp robbers that apparently 
had been stealing bread from inside the tent flew up. My host turned 


his dogs on them; and the shepherds went through the futile exer 
cise of pursuit, with much barking and wagging their tails. Then at 
a soft, almost inaudible command, something like "All right, boys," 
they stopped and curled up in the shade. 

It turned out the packer had left on the previous day for supplies. 
He would be back on the day after tomorrow, when camp would be 
moved beyond Cowlitz Pass to the west. The sheepherder, whose 
name I never knew, had come back to camp to start a fire and cook 
supper. I was invited to dine with him. We would eat before dark. 
Then he would go to the sheep, which were in a small basin beyond 
a low ridge to the west. When they were bedded, he would return 
and we would talk. 

"I haven t seen a paper for four months," he said. "So you will 
have to bring me up to date." 

He lighted a fire and started supper. I brought him cold water 
from a fast-flowing spring that fed a rivulet that wound its way 
through this small meadow for 100 yards or so and then poured out 
into a soggy, swampy expanse of grass and reeds. I made my camp 
close by his big tent and collected white fir boughs for my bed. 

By that time he had his pots on the fire. I handed him the Yakima 
newspapers and the copy of The Outlook. He thanked me, and after 
a pause said, "Will you do me a favor? Read me the paper while it 
is still light." 

So while he cooked supper, I read the most recent paper, headlines 
and all, starting with the left-hand column on the front page. Most 
of it was news of war the Kaiser, the Huns, the English Channel, 
Flanders, the Tricolor, the Marseillaise, the Rhine. It was deep dusk 
when I finished the first page. Supper was about ready. 

"Thanks, son," he said. "Now bring your plate and get some mut 
ton chops, potatoes, and peas. There s bread and butter and jelly in 
the tent. Do you like your coffee real stout?" 

When I started to eat, he left with his dogs to tend the sheep. He 
was back in an hour or less. As he was filling his own plate, he said, 
"Son, do you think you can see to read me some more?" 


So I lay on my belly by the campfire and read on and on as he ate. 
When he had finished, we did the dishes. 

"Now we ll build up this fire a bit and hear the rest of the news/ 7 
he declared. 

It was a still, clear night. There was a touch of fall in the air. I sat 
close to the fire. He cross-examined me. He not only wanted to know 
about the war; he wanted to know about baseball, the price of hogs, 
sheep, cherries, and hay, the news of the valley, of Woodrow Wilson 
whom he admired, Congress, Teddy Roosevelt, and Pershing. I 
could not answer all the questions he asked, though I tried to give 
him a synopsis of events during the summer of 1914. 

After he had pumped me dry, there was silence. There was not 
even a murmur in the tops of the fir that guarded the camp. There 
was the crackling of the fire and the faint sound of the snoring 
of one of the dogs. All else was quiet. The stars hung so low that 
they almost touched the firs. 

My heart was filled. There was hard work in the valley. There was 
freedom in the mountains. There seemed to be endless opportunities 
ahead. I saw my future shaping up in vague outline. I had some 
family responsibilities, but I had no worries or doubts or fears. I 
felt a place awaited me in America. I felt I belonged here and that I 
was part of something exciting and important. 

The war in Europe? It was as remote as the typhoon that swept 
bare an island in the South Pacific whose name I could not even 
pronounce. War in Europe? That should not concern any one here. 
Hasn t Europe always had wars? Even a Hundred Years War? The 
war was remote, as foreign as a flood in China or a revolution in 

That is why, I think, the evening in the meadow below Cowlitz 
Pass remains so vivid in my mind. For as I sat in silence thinking of 
the war as something wholly removed and apart from our world, the 
sheepherder spoke, "Well, you boys may have to finish this." 

I was startled. I plied him with questions. Why should a war in 
Europe affect us? How could fifteen-year-old boys finish a war? Why 
would America want to fight in Europe? 


We talked into the night by the campfire on the edge of the lonely 
meadow in the high Cascades. My host did not have much formal 
education, but he was informed and highly intelligent. He could make 
a complicated thing seem simple; he had the capacity of putting seem 
ingly irrelevant things into a pattern. Or perhaps it was an ability on 
his part to make one see things his way. He was indeed exciting. He 
gave me my first seminar on war. He told me why it was that this 
war would soon be "our war." 

This was the most unsettling talk I had ever heard. I was back on 
the trail early in the morning, striking down toward Indian Creek, 
Kloochman Rock, the Naches, and home. As I swung along in silence, 
the words came back to me, "You boys may have to finish this/ 

Brad, Elon, Doug, and I? Perhaps my kid brother Art too? Would 
we have to kill people with knives and guns? We fifteen-year-old boys, 
who loved everything that moved in the mountains, who swore we 
never could kill a doe or a fawn, would be killing people soon? The 
guy must be nuts! Another daffy sheepherder! 

Then I remembered the last scene with him. He had cooked me a 
great breakfast ham and eggs, potatoes, hot cakes with butter and 
syrup, and coffee. I had washed the dishes and assembled my pack. I 
stood on the edge of the meadow facing the east as I said good-by. 
There was gentleness in his voice. He placed a hand on my shoulder 
and stood in silence a moment. 

"You will make a good soldier. A kid that can lug a pack over these 
ridges can go anywhere Uncle Sam wants to send his army." 

Then Fd pick up the cadence one, two, three, four left, left, 
left-right-left as I marched down the trail to home and my junior 
year in high school. That is how I marched out of the Cascades on 
the last wholly carefree trip I ever had in the high mountains. 

I entered Whitman College at Walla Walla in the fall of 1916. 
When war involved America in 1917, it swept that campus as well as 
every other spot in the country where youth was congregated. Men in 
uniform appeared. Some of them were upperclassmen back at the 
fraternity house for a week end before leaving for some unknown des- 


tination. Friends with sealed orders in their pockets were saying 
good-by with moist eyes. There was much swearing and boasting arid 
bravado. America was going to "clean up a few alley rats/ 7 It wouldn t 
take long. The whole thing would be over in no time. The Kaiser is 
probably "shaking in his boots already." America is plenty tough. 
These Huns will be "mighty sorry they started this fight." It won t 
take long to finish it. "We ll teach them/ 

That summer I went into the Cascades on a short pack trip. But 
the mountains seemed strangely lonesome. I was turned down for 
aviation. Brad was in the air corps. A letter from him had arrived from 
Texas. As I walked the trails the sheepherder s words of three sum 
mers ago echoed through me: "You boys may have to finish this." 
We would finish it, too. Until that was done, there would be no satis 
fying pleasure in the high mountains. There was work to be done, a 
war to fight. 

With thoughts like that, the pack trip was an unrounded experi 
ence. It was like a hurried excursion through a house that is about to 
be closed to make sure water is not running, lights are off, electric 
irons are unplugged. And as one goes from room to room, pulling a 
shade or tightening a window, he hears the car outside waiting to take 
him to the station. He is reluctant to go but he is glad to be out of 
the lonesome place. The front door is about to close when he decides 
to take one more look in the kitchen. It is hard to leave, yet there is 
no enjoyment in staying. 

By the next summer I was at the Presidio, being drilled by an old 
army sergeant. "Left, right, left, right, left, right" on and on for 
hours. Then at the day s end the fog would roll in from the ocean and 
I would go to my cot in the barracks and rest. And as I lay there, I d 
often think of my sheepherder friend below Cowlitz and hear him 
say, "You boys may have to finish this." 

Once that summer I was down by the docks of San Francisco 
watching a troopship load. The men marched aboard in silence. No 
one was there to see them off no band, no music, no friends. There 
were many youngsters, eighteen and nineteen years old now but four- 


teen or fifteen when the sheepherder talked to me. Each face was 
serious. There was a tenseness in the air. This was a serious business, 
not an excursion. I knew what they were thinking, for I was part of 
them. They were thinking about cutthroat trout or rainbow trout in 
a stream like the Klickitat, the golden reflection of a sunset behind 
some mountain such as Adams, the Saturday night crowds of the 
streets of a small town, the tolling of a church bell, the quiet and 
solitude of the deep woods. 

They also were thinking that they d be back soon. But in the back 
of their heads was the thought that they might not. 

As I marched in the training camps, I remembered Logan Wheeler. 
Logan was the first of my friends to die in France, killed in action at 
the Meus-e Argonne. Logan had worked in his father s creamery. He 
had wavy chestnut hair and brown eyes that had joy and laughter in 
them. He was full of life. He walked as if there were springs in his 
heels. He was always on the run, always cheerful and friendly. His 
girl friend was a lovely creature whose name I forget. 

A few days after news of Logan s death reached Yakima I met this 
girl on South Third Avenue. She was coming from a store, with a 
package under her arm. Grief had cast a pallor over her beautiful face. 
She walked as if wounded. I choked up. I only nodded. I stopped for 
a second, touched her arm and hurried away. As I passed, she broke 
down and wept. It was then I realized, for the first time I think, what 
it meant when a war became "our war." 

Chapter XIII Trout 

TROUT fishing for food is different from trout fishing for sport. When 
a man needs trout for supper, he is not going to observe the niceties 
that sport fishermen respect. He is after his trout in the most direct 
way open to him under the law. He may, indeed, catch a trout with 
his bare hands. That s not too difficult when the fish is under a bank 
or in moss in a small stream. One must tread softly so as not to dis 
turb him. The hand must enter the water quietly and slowly and at a 
distance from the trout. It must be brought up under him gently. A 
trout loves to have his belly rubbed. After a few tender strokes he 
can be hoisted from the creek. 

As boys we used every lawful way we could to catch trout. They 
were the only regular relief that we had from our diet, except huckle 
berries and grouse. We quite frequently found huckleberries. Less 
frequently we had grouse, for there were not many times when it was 
lawful to shoot them. Even then they could not be had with regu 
larity, since the only weapon we had was a revolver. 

Once Brad and I had been out a week or more. We were climbing 
on the abrupt trail out of Conrad Meadows towards the Klickitat 
Meadows. Brad was ahead, carrying a .22 revolver. We were in a 
stand of tamarack. A grouse flew to a branch almost over our heads. 
Brad whipped out the revolver and fired, one, two, three, four. With 
each shot the grouse said "oik," stretched its neck as if to discover 
where the noise came from, and held its seat on the branch. 

There were two bullets left. Brad handed it to me. I took two shots 
and missed; each time the grouse said "oik." It sat still while Brad 
reloaded the revolver. It acted like the man in the sideshow who has 
his head through a hole in the canvas and is quite confident no one 
in the crowd is skilled enough to hit him with a baseball. Brad now 


TROUT 163 

took careful aim; in just one shot he snipped off its head. The fat 
grouse fell at our feet. 

We drew it at once and lashed it to a pack. That night in the Klick- 
itat Meadows we stewed it. We ate all of it, every morsel but the 
bones. We fried two pans of bread and dipped the bread in the juice. 
Grouse anywhere, anytime, is close to the top of the menu; but no 
grouse was ever more delicious than this particular one. The succu 
lent meat had an Elysian quality, better than mortal man deserved. 

Since we depended so heavily on trout for food, we fished seriously. 
We did not have the leisure in which to play with the various meth 
ods of fishing. We often reached a camping place at dusk. There 
would be a half-hour or so for fishing. If we were to have trout for 
supper, the catch must be fast. 

We unwittingly took a leaf out of Izaak Walton s The Compleat 
Angler. I learned years later that he advised to fish for trout down 
stream with a short line. He advised also, when fishing with a fly, "if 
it be possible, let no part of your line touch the water, but your fly 
only." That is, I believe, known in England as dapping. Izaak Walton 
called it to "dape or dap/ 

Dapping with a fly was almost a surefire method for us. But it 
will not work in every place. In many pools a person who lets only 
his fly touch the water will most certainly frighten any trout there. 
The ideal place is in the white water at the head of a riffle. It makes 
no difference whether the stream is 12 feet or 12 inches wide. If 
either a wet or a dry fly is allowed to dangle in the white foam, it 
will probably be taken by any trout that happens to lie there in wait. 
At any rate that was the quickest, surest way we knew. 

I think I had my best luck dapping with a coachman bucktail or 
a McGinty. But almost any standard fly would do the trick: queen 
of the waters, Jack Scott, brown hackle, gray hackle, black gnat. We 
caught rainbow and cutthroat up to 14 inches this way. Those are 
not the largest trout in Western waters. But in any water a i^inch 
rainbow or cutthroat is a champion. 

If the stream had no such riffle, more time and exertion would be 
required. Then I would use a wet fly and fish with a long line down- 


stream, working the fly up and across the pools. Or I would let it 
drift down an eddy and slowly retrieve it. When fishing with a wet 
fly, I learned to lead the rainbow or cutthroat a bit when it came for 
the fly, i.e., to pull the fly away. That seemed to increase the appetite. 

Our fishing was mostly on streams. But when I fished a lake I also 
used a wet fly. Dry-fly fishing was too involved for me. I did not 
have a double-tapered line. I sometimes used fly oil to make the flies 
float. But my leaders were only three feet long, and a wet submerged 
line would soon pull the fly under. I learned to fish the rise that is, 
to drop the fly, when possible, on the swirl caused by a feeding trout. 
I found that if the fly was placed at once in the middle of the circle, 
a strike was practically assured. 

When the trout were not feeding on the surface, I went down for 
them. A split shot or two near the end of the leader would carry the 
fly 10 feet or more under water. Sometimes I used an ordinary wet 
fly, waiting perhaps two or three minutes for it to sink before starting 
to pull in. Then I retrieved it in short, easy jerks in an effort to 
simulate an insect swimming to the surface. 

More often I would use a woolly worm. They simulate the 
nymph or naiad that is swimming to the surface in order to spread 
its wings and fly. A nymph has no unfolded wings; it is the larva 
intermediate of the egg and the fly. So the woolly worm has no 
wings. It is merely a hook whose shank has been wound with various 
kinds and colors of wool, hair, yarn, or leather. As Crowe, in The 
Book of Trout Lore, says, "Take an Alder or Zulu; clip off most of the 
hackle, wings, and tail, and you have a nymph as realistic as many 
sold at your favorite tackle counter." When the woolly worm is 
drawn slowly up from the bottom four or five inches at a time, it 
resembles a nymph seeking the new freedom of the air. 

Our fishing as boys was not exclusively with flies. We used them 
whenever possible because they were more convenient. Bait had to 
be caught; we could not bring it in with us in our packs. Moreover, 
one grasshopper would usually catch not more than one trout, 
whereas one fly would catch a dozen or more. 

But when flies didn t work, I resorted to bait. In the Cascades, 

TROUT 165 

an occasional frog could be found in the meadows, as by the Klicki- 
tat. I would hook him through the lips and ease him gently into 
the water at the head of a deep pool. He would not usually go many 
feet before a rainbow or cutthroat would rise to take him. 

An Indian told me that the best way to catch trout was with a 
spoon. He said that the spoon should be baited with a piece of under 
belly of a small trout. He was meticulous about the precise piece. 
I asked him about it. There was an authoritative finality to his reply, 
"Closest I can get to bait with sex appeal for trout/ 7 

The bait I usually used was either a grasshopper or periwinkle. 
I learned, as most boys do who go fishing, that the best time to catch 
grasshoppers is in the morning when the dew is on the grass and 
their wings are wet. I caught the periwinkle in shallow water along 
the edge of a creek or a lake. In August nothing but their black, inch- 
long, pebble-covered silken cases are likely to be found in the waters 
of Western mountains 4,000 feet or more in elevation. 

The periwinkle or pennywinkle is the colloquial name for the 
caddis worm. It is the nymph or naiad of the caddis which, in the 
region of which I speak, usually hatches in late July. It makes a 
wonderful bait for trout in the streams and lakes of the Cascades 
better, I think, than the grasshopper. 

Izaak Walton recommended dapping for trout not only with flies 
but also with bait. He suggested a line two yards long with a grass 
hopper on the hook. He said to stand behind a bush or a tree and 
"make your bait stir up and down on the top of the water." He 
added, "You may, if you stand close, be sure of a bite but not sure 
to catch him/ 

As boys we unconsciously emulated Izaak Walton in our bait fish 
ing too. I also dapped with grasshoppers and had great success. 
Somehow I had better luck with them in pools without white water, 
and my luck in whirling pools was better than in pools that were 

When it came to periwinkles or caddis worms I fished differently. 
Then I would put on light lead and cast at the base of a riffle or 
pool. After a pause of a minute or two, Fd pull the line in a few 


inches at a time. It was indeed the same method I used when fishing 
with the woolly worm. The periwinkle was the real nymph, the 
woolly worm the artificial one. 

I learned these skills almost entirely in the high Cascades. There 
was fishing in the valley. The rainbow trout in the Yakima River 
then, as now, were extra large. But it is a treacherous stream, deep 
and fast. The Naches was quite accessible in its lower reaches, and I 
occasionally fished it. But my main desire was to get to the higher 
altitudes. Up in that wild and remote country two or three of us 
would have whole lakes and streams to ourselves. There we could 
fish with knowledge that no one had preceded us through the pools 
to disturb the trout. 

The Klickitat Meadows are the most ideal spot for boys God ever 
created in the wilderness. They are about a mile and a half long and 
a half-mile wide. Now they can be reached by road; but when I first 
camped there, they were about 16 miles into the Cascades by trail. 
They are in a basin 4600 feet high. The view from the edge of the 
timber where the trail emerges is reminiscent of New England. The 
basin might be tucked away in western Connecticut or Massachusetts 
or even in Vermont or New Hampshire. The hills that rim it are soft 
and low lying. The sole peak in view is Bear Mountain to the west, 
and from that angle it suggests an Eastern rather than a Western 

This natural mountain meadow looks as if it had been cleared and 
planted with grass. There are only a few trees in it. The Little Klicki 
tat, lined with patches of willow, meanders through, growing in size 
as first the Diamond Fork and then Coyote Creek flow into it. It can 
be jumped at many points, and at no place is more than a dozen feet 
or so wide. There are pools in it, but none that is deep and treacher 
ous. A boy can explore this meadow and discover all its secrets, and 
those of the river too, without risk. There are mosquitoes during 
most of the summer, but no insects, reptiles, or animals that need be 
feared. There is no more hospitable place in the mountains. 

It s the most ideal place to learn trout fishing that I know. When 
I went there as a boy, there were rainbow and cutthroat in the river 

TROUT 167 

Montana black-spotted cutthroat. Neither they nor the rainbow ran 
much over six or eight inches, trout of manageable size for boys. Boys 
can learn the secrets of a stream with that kind of fishing. They can 
experiment; and none of their attempts will be costly. They run no 
danger of losing tackle and little of breaking rods. Through trout of 
that size they can come to intimate terms with a mountain meadow 
and a mountain creek and lay the foundation for greater conquests. 

I caught my first trout in the Klickitat Meadows, on a fly a coach 
man, I believe. I was thirteen then. It was a rainbow, about eight 
inches. As I held the twisting, struggling fellow in my left hand, my 
body tingled. I felt the struggle even in my toes. Here was a cham 
pion, a fighting heart if there ever was one. He was clean and sleek 
and committed to life. I could not kill him. He desired life as much 
as I and was not badly hooked. I returned him to the water. 

Since then I have released many trout. But this one was the only 
one I released for sentimental reasons only. As I have said, the urge 
for sweet, tender trout to round out our starchy diet was great. I 
learned early to kill trout. I learned to clean them by slitting the belly 
lengthwise and snipping the tendons that hold the gills to the head. 
When that is done, one downward movement removes gills and 
intestines together. I learned that the offal pollutes the water if 
thrown into it and therefore should be buried on the shore. 

Having learned the secrets of the trout, I acquired new confidence 
in my ability to survive in the mountains. My food supply was surely 
obtainable from the creeks and lakes; hence the fear of being lost and 
starving was not a factor in these trips. 

Chapter XIV Fly vs. Bait 

FLY-FISHING for trout has no equal. And of all the fly-fishing, the dry 
fly is supreme. The dry fly floats lightly on the water, going with the 
current under overhanging willows or riding like a dainty sail on the 
ruffled surface of a lake. It bounces saucily, armed for battle but look 
ing as innocent as any winged insect that rises from underneath the 
surface or drops casually from a willow or sumac into a stream or 

There is the split second when the trout rises to the fly an in 
stant that is flush with tenseness. The trout may rush from the bot 
tom so hard that he leaves the water, as a salmon does when, fresh 
from the ocean, he jumps over and again to free his body of lice. Or 
the trout may come up to it gently and take it in his lips softly, as a 
lady would a cherry. Or he may more discreetly whirl under it, suck- 
ing it down to him as he turns in the excitement of the hunt. 

However it happens, the heart stands still. There is the tenth of a 
second when the trout has the fly in his lips and before he rejects it 
as false. The anxious thought races through the mind: Have I too 
much slack line on the water to set the hook? If the reflexes of the 
fisherman are fast, and no slack line is on the water, then he sets the 
hook in a flash. A trout so hooked is not hurt, for it is usually his 
lips alone that are involved. Thus he has the full use of his energies 
and an excellent chance to get away. The game s the thing, with 
victory going to the one most skilled. One three-pound rainbow 
caught on a No. 12 or No. 14 dry fly with a 2x or 3x g-foot leader is 
worth three or four caught with worms or salmon eggs or on the 
hardware of spoons or plugs. 

It was experience with bug hatches that committed me to fly 
fishing. I saw my first one at Fish Lake, headwaters for the Bumping 



River in the Cascades, on a warm July day when I was a boy. My 
brother Art and I had walked in from Bumping Lake and tossed off 
our hot horseshoe packs. We were lying on the shore, dozing. There 
was not a cloud in the sky and the lake was smooth. In a little while 
a breeze came up, causing a lapping of water at our feet. It was 
seductive. But before we had a chance to drop off to sleep, I heard a 
splash. I bolted upright and saw before me a calm and quiet lake 
come suddenly to life. A bug hatch was on. The nymphs or naiads of 
a species of the mayfly had left the bottom of the lake, worked their 
way to the surface, and spread their wings. Thousands of them were 
now playing the surface of the lake, rising, then falling and dipping 
the surface, flitting in pairs, dropping fresh eggs in the water. They 
seemed to be rushing to sow the seed that would perpetuate their 
line, lest the brief and hurried minutes of their own lives be ex 
pended on less important matters. 

An old dugout canoe at Fish Lake went with the prospector s 
cabin that stood there for years. It was fashioned from a cedar log 
in the manner in which the Indians of the Pacific Northwest made 
their boats. It was constructed, I believe, by a prospector, though it 
looked pretty much like the Indian canoes that Lewis and Clark 
described in their Journals. We carried it to the lake and settled down 
to fishing. We fished a wet mayfly. We started fishing in the nick of 
time, for the hatch was over in thirty minutes, ending as abruptly as 
it had started. But in that time we got a dozen cutthroat, eight to 
twelve inches. 

The bug hatch is as old as insect life. The eggs laid on or above the 
water sink to the bottom and lie dormant for a period. In the case of 
mayflies it will be a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, depend 
ing largely on the species. The nymph or naiad that emerges from the 
egg hides in the bottom of the stream or lake, or hangs to rocks in 
swift currents, or swims in quiet water, or burrows into the mud. 
During his incubation he lives on other aquatic insects if he has the 
appetite of a stone fly or a caddis, or on plant tissue, algae, and 
diatoms if he is a vegetarian like the mayfly. During his incubation he 


molts repeatedly, each molt bringing him closer to maturity. The 
period of incubation varies. The mayfly will often remain a nymph or 
naiad for three years. 

Nature is prolific in her supply of this form of fish food. The species 
of the various flies are great in number; the order of the stone flies 
and salmon flies has over 1200 species, the mayflies about the same, 
the caddis flies around 3600, and buffalo gnats about 300. They all 
are amazingly fertile. Female stone flies may lay 5000 or 6000 eggs 
apiece. Even so, the margin nature has provided for survival is not 
great; the eggs, nymphs, and flies are prey for every fish and for other 
aquatic animals as well. 

When the conditions are just right, there is a strange stirring of 
life down in the bottom of the lake or stream. The period of in 
cubation is over. The nymph slowly swims to the surface, where it 
crawls onto a rock or branch or spreads its wings and flies. Then the 
mating starts, and new eggs are dropped in the water. The life of the 
fly may be as brief as a few hours. That is true of the mayfly. For if 
the mayfly hatches at sunset, it will probably die by dawn. 

Izaak Walton observed that Those very flies that used to appear 
about and on, the water in one month of the year, may the following 
year come almost a month sooner or later, as the same year proves 
colder or hotter/ 7 Fish biologists estimate that in the three summer 
months there will be, on the average, a bug hatch every two or three 
hours on the inland waters of the Pacific Northwest. There is no dry 
fly box in any pocket that can match all those flies. That is why a fly- 
fisherman is always adding to his collection against the day when he 
will see the hatch of a new fly. And he may carry those flies for years 
and never see their counterpart on the water. 

In July 1940 Jim Donald and I were fishing the Deschutes River 
above Bend, Oregon, near the point where Fall River pours in. 
In that stretch the Deschutes is a deep, quietly moving millrace. 
There was no sign of life on the river, not a rise as far as the eye could 
see. Suddenly the redsides began to roll on the surface. A bug hatch 
was on. The flies were so dark and small that we could not see them 


at first. They were a species of the black gnat. I had no artificial fly 
as small as those on the water. But Jim had in his kit a collection of 
Nos. 22 and 24, which are so tiny that it is hard to thread them at 
any time let alone in the dusk. There was a reward for Jim s foresight. 
He soon had a pound and a half redside on the tiny No. 24 hook. He 
played him for a half-hour; and it was dark when Jim finally brought 
him to the net. 

No bug hatches are more exciting than those I have witnessed 
when wading a stream or the shallow water along the shores of a 
lake. Silver Creek meanders at 6000 feet through pasture land about 
20 miles below Hailey, Idaho, a town memorialized by Nancy Wil 
son Ross in Westward the Women. It has no white water, but purls 
along like a millrace. It is as broad as a city street and from 3 to 12 
feet deep. Some of its bottom is covered by small gravel, but most of 
it has a deep stand of grass, weeds, and moss. This is an ideal rainbow 
stream. It is, I think, the best dry-fly stream for rainbow in the United 

Jim and I were fishing Silver Creek in waders on a late evening 
one July. We had gone to the stream on the heels of a heavy thunder 
storm. There was at most an hour of fishing before dark. We took to 
the stream shortly above the Point of Rocks. 

There are two ways to fish Silver Creek with dry flies. One is to 
use as short a line as possible, dropping the fly on the near side of 
the stream and letting only the leader touch the water. This is a 
modified version of dapping, but it can be used successfully only on 
those portions of Silver Creek where the fisherman is concealed by 
tall grass or willows. It takes a strong heart to work the stream that 
way. One often cannot see his fly, which intensifies the shock to the 
nervous system when a two- or three-pound rainbow strikes. Then the 
fisherman is apt to set his hook too late. 

Elaine Hallock taught me the better way. It is to quarter the creek 
downstream. Upstream casting is poor, for there is neither white water 
nor riffles in Silver Creek; hence the shadow of the line will most 
assuredly be seen. Silver Creek fishing is delicate fishing. One must 


come down on his trout with great finesse. When one quarters the 
creek downstream, a flip of the tip of the rod will feed out more line 
without disturbing the fly. In that way one can get a long, long float, 
50 yards in some places, 30 yards in most places, before the fly is 
pulled under by the weight of the line. It is at the end of those long 
floats that the trout is apt to take the fly. 

One who is slow in setting the hook will not get Silver Creek 
trout. And any trout hooked at that distance is usually lightly hooked. 
I have met no dry-fly fisherman with more finesse and skill than 
Elaine Hallock to me the old maestro. But I have seen him lose 12 
of 15 Silver Creek trout that he hooked at the end of a long float. 
Even so he brought three rainbows weighing between two and four 
pounds to the net that day, which was three times what Jim and I 
together had. 

This evening in question Jim and I were quartering Silver Creek. 
We each had one trout weighing a pound and a half or less. But the 
strikes had slacked off and it looked like the trout had left the sur 
face for that day. Suddenly a bug hatch started. We never identified 
the fly and had none to match it. It was a small species of salmon fly. 
We were in water well above our waists. We could see the nymphs 
coming to the surface and emerging full blown from the water. A 
stream that we had thought to be close to dormant burst into frenzied 
activity. Rainbow, five pounds or better, were rolling within reach of 
our fingers. Smaller rainbow were jumping. Millions of flies were 
bubbling from the water. The river was alive, as far as the eye could 
see, to the left and right. Hundreds of trout were making the rivei 
boil. They began to jump and roll within inches of us. 

Both of us acted as if we were in a state of semishock. Jim finally 
found a second or third cousin of the fly that was hatching. He caught 
a one-pounder in the midst of the turmoil. And the hatch stopped 
as suddenly as it had started. The flies melted away in the grass and 
reeds. The creek became quiet. There was no splash or swirl to break 
the silence. The creek had 30 minutes of frenzied activity and then, 
as if exhausted, became dormant. 


Izaak Walton listed as his artificial flies the dun, stone, ruddy, 
yellow or greenish, black, sad-yellow, moorish, tawny, wasp, shell, and 
drake. "Thus have you a jury of flies likely to betray and condemn all 
the Trouts in the river." If Izaak were alive today he would, I am 
sure, add the Hallock killer. 

Elaine Hallock for years watched what fell off the willows at the 
water s edge, and put together a fly unique in the Pacific Northwest. 
The prospectus on the fly, written by the inventor himself, is worthy 
of the SEC files. Elaine wrote me as follows: 

I am sending you under separate cover a few trout flies which are 
locally known as "Hallock s Killers." They were made especially for you 
but I am sending these few only because, in the hands of one not thor 
oughly familiar with their deadly qualities, and proper method of use, 
they are really dangerous. Should you be fishing from a boat and are out 
over the water where trout are known to abide, extreme caution should be 
employed in affixing the fly to the leader. You should hump over the fly, 
concealing it in the pit of your stomach and between the folds of your 
coat, preferably getting down on your hands and knees to the end that the 
fish cannot possibly see the fly during the operation. Perhaps the better 
method is to carry a tarpaulin or blanket under which you can crawl while 
handling the fly. If you are angling from the shore, you should be care 
ful to get well back from the bank, say 75 or 100 feet, and if possible 
conceal yourself behind thick brush or a big tree. Trout have been known 
to attack these flies with such vigor and accuracy and to leap such 
phenomenal distances when seeing the lure that they usually gulp the 
fingers, sometimes even the hands of the angler, inflicting deep cuts and 
lacerations with their teeth. 

Izaak Walton wrote that his "jury of flies" was not indispensable, 
that "three or four flies neat and rightly made, and not too big, serve 
a Trout in most rivers, all summer." Each fly-fisherman would be 
likely to have a different list of indispensables. Haig-Brown in 
A River Never Sleeps says that your favorite fly is "the one you d 
fall back on if you were to have no other, something like the one book 
you d take along to a desert island/ Two of his are the Gammarus 
fly and the brown and white bi-visible, flies that he has not used for 
years, since he already knows they will catch fish under most condi 
tions. For trout, my dry flies include the Hallock killer (giving full. 

discount to Elaine s prospectus), the coachman bucktail, the blue 
upright, and the gray hackle with red body. And my wet flies are 
the coachman, black gnat, woolly worm, and caddis. 

While it is a great day for the fly-fisherman when the trout are 
on the rise, it is often necessary to go down for them. Jim Donald 
and I put in our first appearance on the South Fork of the Madison 
several years ago in late July. We had fished Elk Lake, Montana, 
which lies not far from the Idaho line. We had seen iQ-pound rain 
bow taken on a troll. But the best for us on flies was a seven-pounder 
plus a miscellaneous collection of smaller rainbow in the neighboring 
Hidden Lake. It was hard, slow work on the lakes, painfully slow in 
the hot sun that beat down the whole of the windless days we spent 
there. We decided to repair to a stream where fishing conditions 
were less likely to be affected by the weather. 

We chose the Madison from the reputation it enjoyed; and the 
next noon checked in at an auto camp in West Yellowstone, Montana. 
That afternoon we sought out the South Fork. To our dismay it was 
almost as much a lake as the waters we had left, for Hebgen Dam 
had transformed a mountain stream into a long slough. We fished 
hard, using most of our tricks. We fished dry and wet. We got a few 
small trout but none worthy of the reputation of the Madison. 

The next day we sought local advice. Our guide turned out to be 
a men s-suit salesman for a mail-order house. Each of us ended up 
being measured for a suit on the banks of the South Fork. (They 
were good suits, too.) But before that had happened we had experi 
enced the finest nymph fishing we had ever known. 

Our guide put us in deep pools. The water was well up to our 
armpits, almost at the top of our waders. Our feet were on small 
gravel. We used the woolly worm in various colors at the end of a 
nine-foot leader, with only the weight of a swivel attached at the 
head of the leader to carry it down. We would cast out, wait a minute 
or two for the woolly worm to sink, and then start a slow retrieve. 
We would take the line in with the left hand, an inch or two at a 
time, coiling it in the palm as the slack accumulated. By midafter- 


noon the two of us took thirty trout. We killed five, returning the 
rest to the river. The smallest one caught weighed two pounds, the 
largest two and a quarter pounds. 

It was delicate fishing. If we had had our afternoon skill in the 
morning, we would have had more than the thirty. Jim yelled like 
an Indian at his first fish. Well he might. It broke water, stood on 
its tail, and shook its head trying to dislodge the woolly worm. I 
am stirred from the lethargy of an armchair even at the memory of it. 
"A rainbow!" I shouted. But I was wrong. It was a German brown 
acquiring rainbow tactics in the cold waters of the Madison. 

There is hardly a fisherman who does not discover something about 
trout, bass, steelhead, or salmon -that those before him did not know. 
Lads a hundred years hence will find the answers to questions that 
have stumped all who preceded. For the calculus of water temper 
ature, humidity, the moon and sun, the wind, bug hatches, and the 
like are too involved for any one man to compute. Izaak Walton 
about three hundred years ago put the problem in the following way: 
"Angling may be said to be so like the Mathematicks, that it can 
never be fully learnt; at least not so fully, but that there will still be 
more experiments left for the trial of other men that succeed us/ 

I have often seen trout or bass at the bottom of a pool and dangled 
bait before their noses without results. Yet sometimes, if I were 
patient, and held the bait right in front of the fish for five minutes or 
more, I would be successful. I remember such a case when I was 
bass fishing in Lake Wentworth, New Hampshire. I was anchored in 
thirty feet of water off Turtle Island in a pool where I seldom failed 
to take bass. For bait I was using crayfish that are native to the lake 
and which I caught with my hands. This day the lake was mirrorlike. 
There was no breath of air; and the sunlight fell with the full intensity 
of July. 

For several hours I had been unable to interest any small-mouthed 
bass in the crayfish. I peered over the edge of the boat and saw a 
bass poised directly below. I lowered a fresh crayfish until it hung 
suspended in front of the bass s nose. The crayfish, hooked through 


the tail, was waving his claws menacingly at the bass. The bass did not 
move. That went on for five minutes or more. Then the bass lunged 
at the crayfish. He seized it from the side and slowly turned it in his 
mouth so as to swallow it tail first. When the tip of the tail was in 
his mouth, I set the hook. The bass was transformed into a mass of 
energy. He came straight up from the bottom of the lake as if he had 
been shot out of a cannon. He came so fast I could not begin to take 
the line in on the reel. He hit the surface about a foot from the boat 
and jumped. The force of his jump carried him some three feet in the 
air; he gave a side twist, shook his head, and landed in the boat a 
pound and a half of fighting-mad bass flesh. 

One July day I had whipped the shore water of Green Lake in the 
Wallowas for several hours with a variety of dry flies. I should have 
had my limit, but only three or four trout were in the creel. I was 
standing at the meadow s edge on the south side of the lake wonder 
ing what to try next. As I stood there perplexed, a ij-inch eastern 
brook slowly swam in to shore. When he was two feet offshore in 
perhaps eight inches of water, he turned and stopped, perfectly poised 
and facing the depths. He was not more than three feet from my 

I decided to have some fun with him. I reeled in my line, leaving 
only the nine-foot leader free of the ferrules. I looked in my fly box 
and spied a McGinty. Playing a hunch, I greased it with mucelin and 
tied it to my leader. All this time I had not moved my feet; but my 
arms and hands had been active. Yet my trout was not in the least 

I risked disturbance, however, when I swung the rod out over the 
water so as to dangle the McGinty in front of his nose. Even then 
he was not frightened. When the McGinty touched the water, he 
had it in a flash. I set the hook and my trout was in deep water fight 
ing for his life. That trout violated all the rules man had made 
for him. 

The bait-fishermen are not only vociferous; they are probably in 
the majority. The debate between them and the fly-fishermen has 


been going on for centuries, and will never cease as long as there is 
a trout pointed upstream in a riffle, waiting to see what the river 
brings him. 

One summer day I came out of the Wallowas with a creel filled 
with 12 to 14-inch rainbow caught with a dry fly on the Big Minam. 
I ran into a newspaperman whose curiosity was excited by a glimpse 
of the catch. I told him of the Big Minam, which rises from the 
south end of Minam Lake in the heart of the Wallowas. It flows for 
40 miles through one of the prettiest mountain valleys the Creator 
ever fashioned. It is fed on its course by several good streams the 
Little Minam, Rock Creek, the North Minam, and Elk Creek. 
Dozens of other smaller creeks flow into it and it is fed by hundreds 
of springs. The valley is narrow a quarter- to a half-mile wide. The 
mountains rise on either side 2000 to 3000 feet. 

There are great stands of ponderosa pine in the valley. There are 
huge fir trees, red and white, and towering tamarack on the slopes. 
Jack pine is scattered here and there in groves so thick no tree can 
get beyond the spindling stage. There is now and then a touch of 
spruce and once in a while a yew tree. On the tops of the ridges are 
scatterings of mountain-mahogany, excellent browse for deer. And 
in the ravines are alder, willow, and hawthorn. There are whole acres 
of snowbrush along the mountainsides, filling the valley with its sweet 
perfume in June and July. 

This is excellent elk country Rocky Mountain elk introduced 
from Wyoming in 1912. And wise and crafty buck deer watch over 
the valley from the base of granite cliffs that mark the skyline of 
the mountains. 

In years past the Big Minam has been one of the best trout streams 
in America. There were streams that had larger rainbow in them, 
but none harbored lustier ones. Moreover, few streams are more 
exacting on the fly-fisherman. The water is as clear as water can be. It 
runs for the most part over sandbars and bright gravel. Detection is 
easy; delicate fishing is required. One should let a pool on the 
Minam rest at least five minutes after catching a trout from it. 

This is the discourse I was giving my newspaper friend bragging 


a bit as I held the trout up one by one. When I had finished he said, 
"You caught them on bait, I presume/ 

"Bait?" I snorted. "There ought to be a law against fishing for 
trout with bait/ 

My statement was on the wires that afternoon, and Ben Hur 
Lampman, editorial writer for the Portland Oregonian, saw it the 
next morning. Ben is more than editorial writer. He is a fisherman 
extraordinary. He is something of a botanist and biologist. He is also 
a philosopher. 

Ben has a plaque entitled "The Angler s Prayer" with a verse 
inscribed on it that reads: 

Lord give me grace to catch a fish 

So big that even I, 
In talking of it afterward 

May never need to lie. 

The story of how that prayer on Ben s plaque was answered is told 
by Ben himself in the greatest fish story ever written. It is entitled 
"Them Two Guys Is Nuts/ It tells how Ben caught a 120-pound 
sturgeon, 6 feet ioYz inches long, in Blue Lake, Oregon, after a battle 
of 2 hours and 15 minutes. I mention the story only to indicate that 
the primordial man is strong in him so strong that he tossed out 
the poet when I endorsed the dry fly. Ben sat down and wrote the 
following editorial. 

Tarrying briefly at La Grande on his way to the fine fishing of the 
Wallowa Mountains, where are lakes with almost incredible trout, Asso 
ciate Justice William O. Douglas, of the Supreme Court, held that in 
fishing for trout there can be no sport unless the artificial fly is used, and 
preferably the dry fly. . . . 

But the associate justice neglects, we think, to consult a most dis 
tinguished precedent which in piscatorial matters has all the weight of 
the English common law. The authority is one that cannot properly be 
ignored in the handing down of such a ruling, for surely it is generally 
conceded to govern these instances, and the name that it bears is warmly 
luminous in English letters. It may seem tedious to cite Izaak Walton, 
but none the less there is a duty in the instance, for Walton is Walton, 
as one might say Blackstone is Blackstone, and not to be altered by in- 


dividual prejudice or personal inclination. This ethical pillar of what one 
might term the common law of angling, the veritable father of the code, 
sets the associate justice, one fears, at naught. 

We have no intent to reverse an associate justice of the highest tribunal, 
nor should we know how to come about it with privilege and decorum, 
but it ought to suffice to refer to the code of the angler as written by 
Master Walton, wherein a considerable part of the chapter on trout fish 
ing is devoted to the employment of baits, which portion takes precedent 
over the equally authoritative discussion of using the artificial fly. Izaak 
Walton was lyric in his praise of the gentle, which is the common maggot, 
and of the dewworm, the lobworm, the brandling, the marsh worm, the 
tagtail, the flagworm, the oak worm, the gilttail, the twatchel and many 
another. He gives explicit and well-nigh affectionate instructions for their 
culture and care before he turns, with scarcely less of delight, to treating 
of the grasshopper, the minnow and the caterpillar. All these, and their 
manipulation, are in the classic corpus juris of the ethics and practice of 
trout fishing. (People v. Trout, i Walton 78) 

It seems, clearly enough, that in his ruling on fly-fishing the associate 
justice is reversed by a still higher court. . . . The error is not in individual 
election of a certain method, which is as may be, but rather in the im 
plication that trout may be honestly acquired in no more than the one 
manner. And Master Walton is so obviously to the contrary. 

Ben was right in marshaling eminent authority to his side. Izaak 
Walton endorsed bait for trout. Izaak listed, in addition to those cited 
by Ben, the beetle, black snail (slit open), and any kind of fly includ 
ing the lowly housefly. Izaak preferred the grasshopper dangled on 
the surface of the water. But my son Bill and I bettered the great 
Izaak one summer day in the Wallowas. 

We were camped at Long Lake and had gone over to Steamboat 
Lake for a day of fishing. Steamboat lies close to 7000 feet. It has an 
island that faintly resembles a steamboat; hence its name. It lies 
surrounded by granite ridges. They rise from 1000 to 1500 feet on the 
east, west, and south; and a few hundred feet on the north. They are 
steep rock walls, studded with whitebark pine, Engelman s spruce, 
and alpine (balsam) fir that have managed somehow to extend their 
roots into tiny crevices, splitting the granite as the roots grow in 
strength. These are smooth rocks, polished by glaciers. 


A lush meadow lies at the south end of the lake where one can 
find in July and August a purple monkeyflower, the fireweed, daisy, 
buttercup, larkspur, Scouler St. Johns wort, and pleated gentian. 
Through this meadow a stream wanders in serpentine fashion and 
pours clear, cold water into the lake. The waters of the lake wash the 
other three granite walls. The granite is here and there streaked with 
marble. The light stone seems to draw out the deep sapphire of the 

Bill and I had been fishing with dry flies. We had three or four 
eastern brook of from 10 to 13 inches and a rainbow or two around 
10 inches. But the going was slow. So I started my son on mastery of 
the roll cast. He was standing on the southern shore at the edge of a 
rock that is as wide as a paved street and slopes gently into the water. 
Suddenly a swarm of grasshoppers came over our shoulders from the 
southwest. They covered the rock. A high wind blew them out on 
the water. Then began an extensive, an amazing rise. The only thing 
comparable to it that I have seen took place in a different medium. At 
the Malheur Bird Refuge near Burns, Oregon, one July evening I saw 
hundreds of redwings diving and swooping over swarms of dragonflies 
that filled the air above the marshes of Malheur Lake. What the 
redwings did to the dragonflies, the trout did to the grasshoppers at 
Steamboat Lake. And each scene was equally animated. 

The water immediately in front of us became alive with fish. Big 
trout two- or three-pounders rolled under the grasshoppers, suck 
ing them under with a swirl. Smaller trout left the water, jumping 
again and again for the fresh bait, gorging themselves. There were 
literally hundreds of swirls and splashes extending farther and farther 
into the lake as the wind carried the hoppers away from the shore. It 
would have been impossible to draw a circle three feet in diameter 
that did not include a rising trout. 

The temptation at such a moment is to give the trout what is 
being offered to bait hooks with grasshoppers or even to add a 
grasshopper to a fly hook. But a grasshopper on a hook does not sit 
as nicely on the water as a grasshopper with his freedom. So we 
decided on a different course. We decided to try the Hallock killer 


and to fish it dry. The underbody of the Hallock killer has a yellow- 
green tinge that is very close to the color of the grasshopper. It was 
this underbody that the trout would see. 

We greased our Hallock killers with rnucelin and cast out. Our dry 
flies rode high and saucily on the surface, bobbing with the riffle 
that the wind had kicked up. They were surrounded by live grass 
hoppers, a half-dozen grasshoppers within inches of our flies. In a 
flash each of us had a strike. The trout chose the Hallock killer over 
the real thing. We caught trout as fast as we could cast. We caught 
trout as long as the grasshoppers pulled trout to the surface. The 
largest was an 1 8-inch eastern brook. My son, fourteen at the time, 
caught him. In view of the angle of decline of the rock into the water, 
I decided against the use of a net. So Bill beached it. It was wholly 
out of water on the rock when the hook became disengaged and it 
regained its freedom. It was fully 18 inches long and any fair-minded 
jury would concede it two pounds. 

Elaine Hallock is a purist and the de facto head of the Dry Fly 
League of the Pacific Northwest. He wouldn t use bait on trout if his 
life depended on it and would expel anyone from the League who was 
caught doing so. At least that s what I thought. Jim Donald also 
proclaimed to be a purist. But he proclaimed it so vociferously that 
he raised doubts in my mind, like the lady who protested too much. 
One day my doubts received reinforcement. I was searching Jim s 
tackle box, with his permission, for a leader. In a box at the bottom 
of the kit I found several interesting specimens. 

One was a grasshopper. I held it up accusingly. 

He said, "Must have jumped in and died." 

Beside the grasshopper was a shrimp. I held it under his nose and 
asked, "How do you explain this?" 

Jim said, "Brought it along for my lunch." 

I looked under the grasshopper and the shrimp and found an artifi 
cial mouse. I then had him dead to rights. 

On our return from the fishing trip I put the matter to simon-pure 
purist, the old maestro, for a ruling. I cast into poetry the brief that I 
filed. It read as follows: 


In days long ago the true dry-fly addict 
Never once cast a covetous look 
At a worm or a frog or a mouse or a hog 
Or at varmints which lived in the brook. 

The fly which was dry was a symbol to him 
Of a skill which was noble and fine 
He was careful to note it was always afloat 
All the feathers, hook, leader and line. 

He cast in the pool where the granddaddy lay 
He waited and followed the float 
For the surge and the splash, the thrill of the flash 
Of the trout which seemed big as a boat. 

But now it appears a decay has set in 

In lieu of a speck of a fly 

A piece of raw meat that a trout likes to eat 

Meets the test if it s greasy and dry. 

And all that is spun from the tenuous thread 
That a thing which is dry and will float 
In fact has a wing though it s only a thing 
With four legs and a tail like a goat. 

Alas and alack and believe it or not 

Things have come to a terrible state 

Black gnat and gray hackle, and all dry-fly tackle 

Are usurped and dethroned by King Bait. 

Oh ye who have erred I beseech ye, repent! 
Raise your eyes from the earth to the sky! 
Leave the mouse to the cat forsake ye the rat! 
Keep your fly like your powder, son, dry! 

The old maestro s ruling came in due course. He replied in kind: 

If cows can dance the rhumba on an ice pond, 
(And once a cow did jump over the moon) 

If listening to the brook a felon s yet fond, 
(Per Gilbert s rhythmic operatic tune) . 


If men who have a thirst may speak of dryness, 
(And feeling dry is worse than getting wet.) 

It may be said with no pretense of slyness 
That lubricated mice may win the bet. 

To fly may not imply the use of pinions. 

A flag may fly from any breezy height. 
So men may disagree in their opinions, 

And every one of them may still be right. 

There are so very many ways of flying. 

There are so very many kinds of flights. 
There are so very many sorts of dryness, 

Let s -give the oiled mouse his Bill of Rights. 

Now you and I may scorn the lowly varmint, 

But scorning cannot rid us of the pest. 
So cast aside your black judicial garment, 

Commune with God and He will do the rest. 

Thus did even a purist fall from grace. 

My son Bill and I were fishing Silver Creek, Idaho, one September 
day. On the upper reaches is a large slough, some thirty yards wide 
and a quarter-mile or more long. There we took our positions, side 
by side, he up to his armpits, I well over my waist. 

It was a squally day, fifteen minutes of gusty wind followed by a 
half-hour of quiet. When there was no wind the surface of the 
slough was glassy. Then conditions were too delicate for fly-fishing; 
for the shadow of the line sounded an alarm to the rainbow. In those 
periods of quiet we would get out of the water, work our way up the 
bank that bounds the slough on the south and study it. What we saw 
at one such time startled us. A school of two dozen or more rainbow 
swam by us. They were on a lazy cruise. They were not more than 
25 or 30 feet away. We got a close look. There were eight better than 
30 inches long, a half-dozen more were over 24 inches and the rest 
from 16 to 18 inches. It was an armada, thrilling to behold. 

When the next breeze came, we waded quietly into the water and 
cast toward the spot where we imagined the cruising rainbow to be. 
We were fishing dry and had changed from a gray hackle to a bucktail 


coachman. Within an hour I had three of those big fellows on. There 
would be a swirl under the fly and the hook would be set. But I was 
either a trifle slow or a trifle fast. Not once did I set the hook securely. 
There would be a run, a dorsal fin cutting the water, a jump, a surge 
and then a slack line. 

At last I was discouraged, and decided to forsake the slough for 
the stream. Bill promised to follow me shortly. Several hours passed 
and he had not showed up. Slightly concerned, I started upstream 
where I had seen him last. Pretty soon someone came running and 
shouted, "Your son needs help. He s got a big one on/ 

"How big?" I asked. 

"About 10 pounds I think/ was the reply. 

Waders are ungainly even for walking. They never were designed 
for running. But run in them I did. I stopped only once in the half- 
mile or more, and that was to borrow a net from another fisherman. 
Neither Bill nor I had one, and a net would come in handy even 
though the trout should turn out to be but half of 10 pounds. 

But I arrived too late for the battle. There was Bill, wet to the 
neck, with a grin on his face, and a rainbow that was slightly over 
16 inches in length hanging on his right thumb. 

When I left him he had forsaken the fly. He waded the neck of the 
slough in water up to his chin, changed to a reel with nylon line, and 
fished as Sandy Balcom, manufacturer of pipe organs in Seattle, had 
taught us. 

Sandy uses a 4- to 6-pound clear nylon line, 300 feet long, with a 
backing of 8- to lopound nylon line also 300 feet long. His leader is 
3 feet long, i34 to 2^4 pounds strength. His hook is a No. 8 or 10 
single-egg type. He puts on two salmon eggs, the lower one having 
only the faintest part of the hook point showing. There is buckshot 
on the leader to carry it down. The bait is allowed to settle on the 
bottom and is then stripped in very slowly. Sandy has delicate fingers. 
He can make a few passes over the bottom and know at once its 
character. He can make bait the king under practically any fishing 
conditions I have known. 

Bill played the rainbow he caught with the salmon eggs at least 


40 minutes; and when the last ounce of energy was gone from the 
rainbow s stout heart, he turned on his side. Bill then slipped a finger 
through the gill and the battle was over. 

As we walked through the willows to the road where our car was 
parked, I saw in my son s eyes an excitement I had not seen before. I 
knew there had been awakened in him an instinct that has been 
carried in the blood stream of the race since man first lowered a net 
in the ocean or first stood by a pool with a spear waiting for the flash 
that heralded the arrival of a salmon or trout. 

Chapter XV A Full Heart 

I STOOD at daybreak one August morning on the ridge above Diamond 
Lake in the Wallowas. We were camped at Tombstone Lake and I 
had risen early to find and explore Diamond, which lay below me 800 
feet or more in a deep pocket of the mountains. The dark sapphire of 
its water, its remoteness from the trail, the steep slopes surrounding 
it, the fir that almost hid it from view these combined to give it 
an air of mystery in the faint light that preceded the sunrise. The 
view stirred in me a feeling of eagerness and suspense that I have 
experienced again and again on coming to a ridge overlooking an un 
explored lake in the wilderness. 

I hurried down as though I were late for an appointment, intent 
on rainbow cruising the surface for food. Where were the deep pools 
and the best feeding grounds? I thought of one-pounders and four- 
pounders. Would the big ones be at the end of those logs lying in 
the water? 

I thought I was alone, so it was startling when I saw a buck deer, 
two does, and a fawn going around the lake ahead of me. I wondered 
what bugs might be on the water and what flies to use. A rise 
showed fifty yards from shore a swirl under something white. The 
circles expanded themselves as they reached toward shore, and all was 
quiet again. 

As I began to whip the surface with my fly, great expectations 
filled my mind. This was a remote place that perhaps only a half- 
dozen people a year ever reached. It was largely unexplored water. 
"There may be four-pounders here/ I thought. So I matched my wits 
against the imaginary champion, and changed from fly to fly until a 
bucktail caddis brought a pound-and-a-half rainbow to the net. 

The sun had not been on the lake an hour when I had to leave. I 



had climbed halfway up the steep mountainside when I sat for 
a few minutes on a granite ledge and looked down into Diamond. I 
felt then as one does when he meets for the first time an interesting 
person. One gets only an inkling of the full personality, and this 
slight acquaintance whets his appetite. This was the beginning 
of a friendship; Diamond had much to offer and I had a longing 
for its offering. 

Lakes, like people, have personalities. It takes time and patience, 
but if one goes about it the right way he can get on intimate 
terms with a lake. Lake Wentworth in New Hampshire was such a 
lake to me. I discovered on my own every good bass pool that it 
harbors. Some are near points of islands, some are in unsuspected 
spots offshore where a ledge is concealed 30 or 40 feet below the 
surface. Others are in sandy stretches where the bass like to cruise. 
One is in the least likely place of all three feet of water a few 
yards beyond a marshy shore. Here at sunset I would anchor both 
bow and stern, cast out a live minnow hooked lightly through the 
lips, and watch for the dorsal fin of a bass as he came viciously for 
the bait in the shallow water. 

I knew the ledges and rocks of Wentworth as one knows his own 
property. I could safely feel my way across it in darkness as one 
would navigate his living room or work his way across his pasture 
without a light. I swam off its shores; and I swam great distances, 
between its islands, two miles or more. I felt the warm surface water 
and the chill of a current coming from some spring in the middle. I 
knew the winds and what to expect of them. I knew the wet east 
wind and the three-day blows out of the west. And I knew where the 
bass were feeding at those times. 

Wentworth was a friend, like Long and Steamboat and Frances of 
the Wallowas later became: and like Fish and Bumping and Frying- 
pan of the Washington Cascades had been earlier. 

Friendship with a lake is likely to be more placid than friendship 
with a river. It is also more easily cultivated, for rivers are unruly, 


headstrong, and violent. Yet the river holds the greater charm for thb 
fisherman. The reason is complex. A river can completely change its 
character in a few hours. Some of the most striking examples are the 
streams that run off the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains 
in Washington into the Pacific: the Quinault, Hob, and Quilla- 
yute. This is an area of great rainfall, as much as 140 inches a year. 
A heavy rain for a day or so can raise those rivers a foot or more. 
When that happens, the character of the pools and riffles changes 

Each pool in a Western river is a study in hydraulics. Unlike 
a swimming pool, it is not understandable merely in terms of a top, 
bottom, and sides. It is a whirling mass of water. The current may 
run at varying speeds at the different levels. The volume of water 
affects the course of the current. Cutthroat, steelhead, and salmon 
have different feeding habits. To know where they are is one thing; 
to know how to reach them in a particular pool is another. The 
newcomer cannot know these things. It takes familiarity and observa 

A river is on the move in more ways than one. The rocks are 
always rolling. They roll for miles and become rounded like those of 
the Naches in the Cascades. The sand they grind shifts from place 
to place. Each pool changes from season to season. Spring floods 
wipe out log jams and sandbars, altering not only the character but 
the location of pools and riffles. When ice goes out it may take with 
it whole beds of algae and moss, as it has done in Silver Creek, 
Idaho, thus transforming long stretches. The process works in reverse 
when a spring flood carries tons of silt from a hillside or meadow 
and dumps it over beds of algae and moss, as I have seen done in the 
Wallowas in East Eagle Creek and in the Minam. Favorite feeding 
grounds for trout are rendered sterile and the design of the river 

So it is that the character of a river, unlike a lake, is most in 
constant. It can be one thing in September and quite a stranger the 
next June. The technique of fishing the pools must be learned 
anew each year. Every spring is a new adventure, no matter how 


often a man returns to a stream. Moreover, a stream is not so moody 
as a lake. When the riffles leave the surface of a lake and a dead calm 
settles over it, the fish are usually less active. But in calm days or in 
windy ones the river is vibrant with activity; it is not dependent on 
outside forces to stir it to life. 

Of all the rivers, those that connect immediately with the ocean, 
such as the Campbell on Vancouver Island and the Quillayute on the 
Olympic Peninsula, have the strongest appeal. They have the cut 
throat, steelhead, and salmon that run in from the ocean. These 
migrants constantly renew the life of the stream and fill each pool 
with expectancy. These streams are not fished out. They run either 
through primitive country without towns or mills to pollute them or 
race to tidewater through undespoiled land in national parks or 

The pool has a strange attraction for man, whether it is against 
the shore of a lake under overhanging willows or formed in a river 
from logs or rocks. Any quick movement of life in its dark depths 
gives it magic. The shadows that run through it, the blurred outlines 
of a log, the streaks of white sand, suggest forms and movements 
of life. The imagination can indeed make a sterile pool an en 
chanted spot. 

When man wades a river he becomes as much a part of it as the 
logs, the rocks, the fish, the water ouzel. There is the pressure against 
the midriff. He balances as he leans into the current and pushes 
his legs through it. It can be especially treacherous, as in the lower 
Deschutes of Oregon in early summer, when one misstep would 
send a man whirling to oblivion in an avalanche of white water. It 
can be comfortable and relaxing in streams such as East Eagle of 
the Wallowas and the Klickitat of the Washington Cascades. When 
man wades a river, he returns to the water as all good hunters of fish 
have done from time immemorial, and comes tip to his prey from 

There is a thrill in traveling on fast water in a boat or canoe. 
The white waters of the Rogue or McKenzie in Oregon or of the 
Quinault or Quillayute in Washington have_ challenge throughout 


for one who fishes them in that way. The craft barely misses huge 
rocks close to the surface as it shoots down narrow channels through 
which the river pours. Submerged logs reach out clawlike to rip 
the bottom from the canoe. One gets relaxation in the wide expanses 
of calm below the roaring falls or cascades. And then comes a rapid, 
giddy run through flat water in which the boat bounces like a cork 
along a current. These experiences fill every moment on our Western 
streams with tenseness. Then man is not only pitted against fish; he 
matches wits with a river. There are few greater exhilarations in the 

It is better that a lad face adventure on a stream or lake than risk 
the more subtle dangers of the poolroom. The streams and lakes do 
not breed juvenile delinquents. 

Every stream, every lake I have ever fished is packed with memories 
not only of the fish I caught but also of my human companions. I 
remember them and their yarns and our experiences together far 
better than I do our fish: 

A. T. Hobson, Montana rancher and for many years Secretary 
of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, before a campfire at 
Cheval Lake in the Wallowas, teaching a group of songsters verses of 
"The Tattooed Lady." 

Palmer Hoyt, publisher of the Denver Post, dismounting at 
Frances Lake, in the Wallowas, after an exhausting ride over one of 
the worst trails ever traveled by man or beast and muttering, "If 
they are shooting suckers, Tm it" 

Jimmy Conzelman, famed football coach and advertising man, 
coming down horseback on the selfsame trail in the dusk and saying, 
"They should keep horses attached to beer wagons like we do in 
St. Louis. They are one thing a man should never straddle. And 
those escalators in Penn Station in New York City aren t so bad 
either, if you get what I mean." 

Dick Neuberger, of journalistic fame, lying on the shore of 
Tombstone Lake in the Wallowas after a hard 26-mile ride and say 
ing, "Be sure, boys, to put the slab at my head/ 


Jim Donald, Oregon lawyer, bellowing like a bull elk as he 
bathed in the icy Minam at dawn. 

Gene and Frank Marsh, Oregon lawyers, and the late Merle 
Chessman, newspaper publisher of Astoria, singing "The Loving 
Cup" in the moonlight on the banks of the Deschutes. 

And there was also the willow thrush. It was dusk, and I was 
walking the trail along the Minam River returning to camp at Granite 
Crossing. There were trout in my creel. I was wet and weary, ready 
for a cup of hot mulligan and bed. The roar of the river was in 
my ears. Suddenly there came the wistful notes of the willow thrush. 
I never saw the bird. I could not quite locate the thicket of willows 
from which it was serenading. I stopped at least five minutes to listen. 
When I turned to go, there was new strength in my step. The haunt 
ing melody of the little brown thrush followed me to camp and 
lingered until dark. 

One of the most memorable experiences happened on a fishing 
trip to Bear Lake in the Wallowas early one September. Lauten 
McDaniel, oil distributor and garageman of Wallowa, and his son 
Keith arranged to meet me and my son Bill at the lake for three 
days of fishing. Lauten and Keith went in with horses by way of 
Bear Creek. Bill and I took a pack train out of the Lostine, up the 
Bowman Trail to Brownie Basin, then to Chimney Lake, and on 
up to Hobo Lake, one of the highest lakes in the Wallowas 8300 
feet. At Hobo Lake the trail ends. 

Some 800 feet or more above us was a granite ridge we had to 
cross. We slowly picked our way up it, and at last looked down into 
the Bear Creek Saddle. There are spots along that ridge where one 
can find gentle slopes down the other side, but we chose the least 
favorable. The slope was steep 45 degrees or better and covered 
with loose rock. There were ledges to skirt and rolling rocks to 
avoid. The going got too rough for riding, so we dismounted, each 
leading a saddle horse and a pack horse. The pack on one horse 
loosened, and before I could climb up the steep slope to fix it, it 
had swung under his belly. The horse bolted and bucked, scattering 


food, kettles, and sleeping bags 500 feet down the mountain. We 
wasted precious time collecting them and repacking the horse. It 
was black when we reached Bear Lake, and we were disappointed 
because we had counted on the evening for fishing. That night the 
weather changed. Fall had set in. 

We fished the next day and the following one with little success. 
Bear Lake, in the fashion of high mountain lakes, had turned vir 
tually dormant. We took a few eastern brook, a couple around 12 
inches, but none of any size. From a fishing viewpoint the trip failed. 
But it was a congenial group; there were happy campfires at night 
and choice food; and the meadow was carpeted with alpine speed 
well and pleated gentian. One night before we retired the moon rose 
over the granite peaks that stand guard on the east. The light gave 
the rockslides opposite us a glistening sheen and turned them into 
tumbled seracs from an ancient glacier. We watched a golden gleam 
dancing in the water as we sat late talking of personal things. 

The next day we broke camp. We returned by way of the Bow 
man Trail, our creels empty. A rainstorm broke as I led the pack 
train out of Wilson Basin to the top. When we arrived at the saddle, 
with Brownie Basin 500 feet below us, it was still raining but with 
the sun over our shoulders from the west. Suddenly a rainbow 
formed immediately in front of us. It was so close one could almost 
have thrown a rock through its arc. One end of it was anchored on 
the northern edge of Brownie Basin, the other a half-mile distant 
at the southern edge. Both ends in the same mountain meadow! 
Two pots of gold at our very feet! As I stood there drinking in the 
scene, I remembered what Ben Hur Lampman once wrote: 

Quoth Justice Douglas of the United States Supreme Court, on arriving 
in Oregon for his vacation, "I am going where I can find the largest fish." 
Ah, but when the largest fish has been found will it be caught? We com 
mend the jurist for his judicious employment of language, for he does 
not declare that he will catch the aforesaid fish, to have and to hold, but 
merely that, he, William 0. Douglas, will repair to its favorite vicinage. 
Yet it is not unlikely that Justice Douglas, who plies a deft rod, will catch 
him a very fine fish. We believe him, however, on reliable report, to be a 


better fisherman than this. We believe that fishing itself is all in all to 
him, and not merely the fish. 

How is that? Duffers and dubs, sir, frequently come home with the larg 
est fish of all, while Waltonian merit seemingly goes unrewarded. To hook, 
play and land the largest fish is not necessarily proof that one is a master 
fisherman. We remember a jaunty novice, equipped with the cheapest of 
rods, reels and lines, who was single-egg fishing a green eddy in the 
glorious Rogue. On the gravel beside him lay a huge steelhead a noble 
fish to dream about. "Did you catch this fish?" he was asked wonder- 
ingly. He bridled at the question. "Who else do you suppose? 7 he 
countered truculently. "Well er did he fight much?" The novice 
stared scornfully at his interlocutor. "Not with me he didn t, mister: I 
hauled him right in!" You, see, that s what we mean. 

Unless we have been woefully misinformed about his attitude toward 
fishing it is our opinion that Justice Douglas would fish for any manner 
of fish, in any sort of water if need be, while his heart rejoiced. He prefers 
trout, of course, and who doesn t? So, we suspect, did Master Walton, 
yet he found merit in "the chavender or chub." Doubtless he, too, pre 
ferred trout, we say, but he could be happy with either, "were t other 
dear charmer away." What every fisherman learns, soon or late, is that a 
full heart is better than a full creel. 

It was a cold July day in 1948. The snow had been particularly 
heavy the preceding winter. There were seven feet of it on the level 
around our cabin in the Wallowas on April 15, and two feet of it 
were still there on May 15. When I arrived from Washington, D.C., 
in mid-June, the snow was gone from the Lostine canyon but big 
drifts hung on the ridges and blocked all trails. Aerial reports showed 
the high lakes wholly or partially frozen. It would be a brief season 
for fishermen, and almost as brief for the trout. There would be only 
a few weeks for the bug hatches on which trout fatten. July would 
be almost gone before the water was rid of its icy chill, and Sep 
tember frosts would be on the hfcels of the dog days of August. 

Green Lake is one of the first of the high lakes to open in the 
spring. It lies 7100 feet up, nestled under granite crags of the ridge 
that bounds the North Minam Meadows on the south. The moun 
tains rim it in horseshoe fashion, the north side being open. That 
side of the lake laps the edge of a great saucer. Almost 2000 feet 


below the rim is the North Minam. The mountain drops off from 
that edge in a great tangle of lava rock and conifers, as wild and 
broken terrain as one can find in the mountains. This pocket in the 
Wallowas is a high shelf. One sits high in the heavens on the edge 
of this lake. At the south side of the lake is a rich meadow with a 
small stream that in late August is only inches wide but ice cold. 
This is an ideal place to camp. There is feed for the horses; and if 
they tire of that, there is the sweet mountain fescue or bunchgrass 
(Festuca viridula) on the ridges above. 

There are conies (carrying Stanley Jewetfs name) in the rock 
slides to scold and chatter. There are does and bucks on the rim; 
and there are cougar and coyote to hunt them hunters that know 
no law against taking does and fawns, hunters that have no legal 
limit on the kill. If one watches carefully he may see the gray- 
crowned rosy finch, the red crossbill. He might even see the Rocky 
Mountain pine grosbeak, a ruffed grouse, or possibly a fool hen 
( Franklin s grouse ) . 

The water of the lake is deep green from the rich algae that cover 
its bottom and give it its name. The fish are especially sweet. They 
are eastern brook, fat and lively. Isaak Walton said, "If I catch a 
trout in one Meadow, he shall be white and faint, and very like to 
be lousy; and as certainly if I catch a Trout in the next Meadow, he 
shall be strong, and read, and lusty and much better meat." I think 
I could take a taste test and find the one Green Lake trout in the 
frying pan. They have the sweetest taste of any eastern brook I have 
eaten. One of them is worth a half-dozen of any others I have known. 
These fish were a part of the magnet that drew me over the 
mountains. I left our cabin around 5 A.M. an early start because 
the snow promised slow travel. Normally it takes three hours to go the 
seven miles to the North Minam Meadows on horseback. My daugh 
ter Millie set the record for that trip when she was sixteen the time 
when Dick McDaniel was thrown from a horse and had a concussion. 
Then Millie rode Lightning out to Lapover for a doctor in an hour 
and a half, without putting the horse beyond a walk. I would be lucky 
to make the trip in four hours this July day. Brownie Basin lies about 


2000 feet above the Lostine. This morning it was filled with drifts of 
snow. Towering over it are jagged granite cliffs. There was a stark 
grandeur about them. Huge avalanches of snow perched on their 
shoulders, with ten-foot drifts all the way to the top. The saddle, half 
as wide as a city street, was filled with broken blocks of snow more 
than a dozen feet thick. Below the saddle to the west are Wilson 
Basin and John Henry Lake. The sun was high and John Henry was 
sparkling as if a million mirrors were casting light on it. 

The hillside snow was too soft for horses, so I walked, leading 
Dan. We both floundered in it for a half-mile or more and did not 
leave it until we reached the basin, a rich meadow dotted with pine 
and fir and lying about 7000 feet high. 

Here I saw young whitebark pines, bent even as the bunch grass 
from the pressure of heavy snow that had burdened them that 
winter. Hundreds of them had been crushed under the terrific 
weight, some never to straighten again. I remembered one in par 
ticular, a whitebark pine 15 or 20 feet high. It bowed at a cra2y 
angle; and so it would be shaped throughout its life. But already 
it had turned its tip straight as an arrow to the sky. It reminded 
me of England, crushed under the burden of war but raising her 
proud head to the sky where freedom lives. 

I went down the pitch of trail that leads to the North Minam 
Meadows the old Bowman, which dropped off the mountain like a 
spiral staircase. It often lay thick in powdered dust in August. Today 
it was wet with snow water and had been heavily washed and gouged 
by spring floods. 

In the Meadows I found elk grazing, and I heard coyotes yapping 
at them from the mountainside. From Wilson Basin the trail had 
been lined with flowers and shrubs in bloom. The Meadows were 
ablaze with colors, wild flowers rioting in the late spring that had 
suddenly arrived in the Wallowas. The North Minam River was so 
far over its banks as to transform the Meadows into a lake. Dan had to 
swim the middle stretch. I held my feet on his shoulders, and the 
water lapped at my saddle seat. 

We went into the woods on the other side and found the Cul- 


bertson Trail to Green Lake most of it a treacherous series of cut 
backs that climb for a mile at 45 degrees or more. I leaned forward 
against Dan s neck and rested him frequently, since it was his first 
strenuous exercise of the season. 

There was much down timber that had to be cut away, for we 
were the first travelers of the year. There was a lot of snow at the 
lake. But the water itself was clear of ice and snow; and so was 
the half of the meadow nearest the lake. There was not a sign of life 
on the surface. I took a yellow and black woolly worm from my box, 
tied it onto a nine-foot gut leader, and at the head of the leader 
put a small split shot. Usually I trim off the fuzz, leaving only a 
shank wound tight with wool yarn, but this time I left it on. On the 
retrieve from the first cast I had a strike. On the fourth I had an 11- 
inch eastern brook. In short order I caught six trout, ranging from 
11 to 13 inches. 

I kneeled by the icy brook to clean them. Then I appreciated for 
the first time the full glory of the meadow. The grass was beginning 
to appear, only a quarter- or half-inch above the ground, not yet 
high enough for a horse to take in his lips. Ahead of the grass were the 
buttercups. The meadow was golden with them in the late sun. There 
were spots of star moss on some of the rotten tree trunks. Hellebore, 
its leaves all furled in conical shape, was beginning to poke its head 
out of the ground, but no other plants were in evidence. 

At the lower altitudes there were many flowering plants and 
shrubs which I stopped to pick on my return. I had no plant presser 
along, so I put them in my fish basket on top of the trout my woolly 
worm had seduced from Green Lake. It was a rich collection I had 

Serviceberry, chokecherry, red willow or dogwood, elderberry, cur 
rant, and snowbrush were the shrubs in bloom. Yellow columbine, 
stickweed, pussytoes, western valerian, skunk cabbage, tall groundsel, 
sweetroot, western wallflower, wild rose, windflower, miner s lettuce, 
alumroot, twinberry, heartleaf arnica, wild carrot, buttercup, yellow 
violet, sheep bluebells (liked more by sheep and cattle than by 


horses), Solomon Vseal, several pentstemon, strawberry, Richard 
son s geranium, Oregon grape, yarrow, forget-me-nots, larkspur, 
honeysuckle (gflia), and lupine these were the wild flowers I picked 
in the dusk. 

The most fragrant of all was the snowbrush (Ceanothus velutinus), 
sometimes known as tobacco brush, mountain balm, and sticky laurel. 
It is popularly called chaparral, a term applied loosely to describe 
various types of shrubby vegetation. Chamise is its prototype on the 
desert. As Walt Button of the Forest Service once told me, "It s 
chaparral if you can t ride a horse through it; chamise, if you can/ * 

Snowbrush comes into a region on the heels of a forest fire and 
often takes over. Many of the snowbrush areas of the Northwest 
are almost impenetrable. They are a nightmare to fire fighters. The 
shrub can t be pulled because it is too deeply rooted. It can t be 
chopped readily because it is too loose and springy at the base. But it 
can be snapped off easily if one knows how because it is extremely 
brittle at the ground level. Digging a fire trench through it is a fine 
art, as the men of the Forest Service know. 

Deer like to bed down in snowbrush and they browse somewhat on 
it. Cattle and horses leave it alone; and it is far down on the menu 
of an elk. The resinous varnish of its leaves adds to the inflammabil 
ity of the shrub. The leaves contain volatile aromatic oils which 
on a warm sunny day give off a pleasant odor. When crushed they 
have the fragrance of cinnamon. 

This July day the snowbrush had been in bloom for most of the 
way along the trail from Lapover to the North Minam Meadows. 
Acres of it had surrounded me. Its odor in bloom is more fragrant 
than the locust or the lilac or any other blossom I recall sweet and 
penetrating, subtle and suggestive. Its fragrance seemed to fill the 
whole canyon of the North Minam. I last saw it when I was on the 
lip of the Lostine canyon on my way home. It was dusk; 1000 feet 
or more below me was a vast yawning pit lined with fir and pine 
and filled with a haze that made it seem miles deep. I stopped 
Dan for a moment. An evening breeze swept off the mountain from 
the west. It carried the perfume of the snowbrush with it. That 


fragrance made this darkening canyon a place of enchantment, a 
land where only imagination can carry a man. 

Coming through Brownie Basin I had heard the wheezy notes 
of the white-crowned sparrow. Now from some undisclosed thicket 
came the sweet song of Audubon s hermit thrush the delicate singer 
who, as Gabrielson and Jewett once put it, produces "the music 
of the stars." 

These were my memories as I unsaddled Dan at the barn and 
entered our cabin. Friends had arrived during my absence. They 
were seated before a roaring fireplace. They gathered around me at 
the sink as I separated flowers from fish under the glare of a gasoline 
lantern. In that light they could not see the glory of my botanical 
collection. I was too tired to describe the beauty of the scenes I had 
witnessed on my trip. But the memories of this journey were so 
poignant that I laughed out loud when a friend who prefers a soft 
chair by the fire said, "So you rode twenty miles of rough trail 
for six trout?" 

Chapter XVI Goat Rocks 

"Tms wind blows right through you! 7 

Elon and I were standing on Old Snowy of the Goat Rocks 8200 
feet high in the Washington Cascades shouting to each other in a 
strong northwester. Canyon walls, lined with glacial ice, snow, and 
rocks, dropped away 3000 feet on two sides of us. We had approached 
Old Snowy from the north, following a hogback of dark lava rock 
ranging in width from a few yards to a foot. This hogback rose and 
fell like any healthy backbone, causing us to gain and then lose alti 
tude. It was a clear August day, and our spirits were high. As we stood 
on Old Snowy s peak the wind was indeed blowing through us. 

Kay Kershaw of the Double K Ranch and Johnny Glenn of Naches 
had packed us in. We had come from Bumping Lake. We stopped 
briefly at Fish Lake and camped the first night at Fryingpan Lake, 
where the evergreens and deep grass were so heavy with rainwater 
they looked slightly frosted. The next day we dropped over Cowlitz 
Pass, the divide between the Bumping and the Tieton watershed, 
and rode all day through clouds of thick mist. We skirted Bench 
mark and Otto Busch lakes and went past dozens of small ponds that 
appeared and disappeared through whirling fog. 

All during the morning I hoped the mist would rise. Below us on 
the left, buried in fog a thousand feet or more thick, were Clear Lake 
and all the valleys and ridges of the Tieton. They were old friends I 
had not seen from the vantage point of this high trail for thirty years. 
I was anxious to look at them again and to renew my acquaintance. 
By early afternoon my wish came true; and the sight I saw made me 
sorry it had. 

Leech Lake was bathed in sunshine. It is a wilderness lake with 



pure, deep blue water, lying in a thick stand of conifers just above 
White Pass. But man had desecrated the spot. The Forest Service 
shelter, a shingled lean-to, had not been cared for. Part of it had been 
used for fuel; and strewn around it were piles of tin cans, paper, card 
board boxes, and bottles. I wished I could recall the mist that had 
plagued us all morning, draw its curtain, and hide this scene from 

We camped that night at Slipper Lake, which is in a small basin 
just below the top of Hogback Mountain. The heavens were clear; 
and the sun rose the next day in a sky untouched by clouds. Though 
I knew the view from the top of Hogback would be unobstructed, I 
was not prepared for what I saw when the pack train finally wound 
its way there. 

Directly below us was Shoe Lake, a half-mile or more long, in form 
and size the left shoe of Paul Bunyan. It lies in a sparsely wooded 
basin rimmed by hills on three sides; and it almost spills over the 
rim on the south. Directly opposite us to the south, 10 or 15 miles 
away, were the Goat Rocks. I often had seen these Rocks as a boy 
from both Darling Mountain and Conrad Meadows. I had climbed 
Gilbert Peak many times. But those approaches were from the south 
east, where the view is more restricted and the angle less advan 
tageous. So my long acquaintance with Goat Rocks had not pre 
pared me for the startling panorama they now presented. 

Before us was the full stretch of them, forming 15 or 20 miles of 
jagged and snowy skyline athwart our path. To the left was Devils 
Horns without doubt the head of the devil in prone position. Two 
great horns at the top of the brow were plain to see; a long, sharp 
nose dominated the face; there was a twist of evil in the mouth; and 
the chin seemed to be covered with coarse hair. To the right and 
slightly closer was Tieton Peak, looking as if it had been designed as 
a pyramid and then abandoned when half-finished. Then came Gil 
bert Peak, with its long, black fingers of rock rising like jagged beams 
in the sky. To its right were the sedate Ives Peak, shaping up by more 
conventional lines into a soft, rock point, and Old Snowy with a 


sharp crest rising above powdered shoulders. To the extreme right 
was the dark wall of Johnson Rock. This jagged knife of skyline 
dominated the scene. A bit of the crest of Mount Adams could be 
seen over Old Snowy. But there was no other snow-capped peak to 
share with Goat Rocks even part of the grandeur. 

The view filled me with unrest. I wanted to head at once for those 
peaks, to camp in the valleys below them and to explore their basins 
and ridges. The invitation had an urgency at least partly owing to the 
uncertain weather. 

"This is the day to be on Old Snowy/ I thought, as I scanned the 
skies for signs of more fog and rain. 

The country between Hogback Mountain and the Goat Rocks is 
a gargantuan washboard, dropping and rising, dropping and rising 
over the ridges. It finally ends in McCall Basin, which wise range 
management of the Forest Service has preserved as one of the loveliest 
of all mountain meadows. We did not camp there this trip, but 
climbed the ridge to the northwest and dropped down the other side 
to West Camp. Here we were at the headwaters of the Clear Fork 
of the westward-flowing Cowlitz. It is the best basin the northern 
slopes of Old Snowy offer as lodging to visitors. There is clear cold 
water and dry wood for man; there is good grass for the horses. Sharp 
outcroppings of the Goat Rocks tower over the camp. 

Elon and I climbed Old Snowy the next day. We had been experi 
menting with the pressing of wild flowers. We had no regular presser, 
so we brought along the telephone directories of Los Angeles and 
Seattle, which proved fairly satisfactory. Each was held by hand- 
screws between covers of plywood and tied on our saddles. We had 
collected specimens of flowers and shrubs all the way from Bumping 
Lake, specimens too numerous to list. We admired most those flowers 
that were somewhat new to us and rather rare in this region: the 
yellow monkeyflower from Fish Lake; a species of rose pink pent- 
stemon we found below Cowlitz Pass along a trail lined with bloom 
ing western laurel; the delicate white flowers of the tall, leafy Sierra 
rein orchis from the southernmost meadows of the plateau north of 


Leech Lake; the tiny alpine speedwell and the orange-anthered saxi 
frage which filled the Shoe Lake basin; and a few tiger lilies we saw 
before we dropped into McCall Basin. 

The things we had seen in 60 miles of mountain trails were as 
nothing compared to what we saw on Goat Rocks. It was the eighth 
of August, 1948, when we climbed Old Snowy; but the season was a 
late one. The flowering was at its peak. 

The flowers of Goat Rocks probably are unequalled anywhere in the 
Pacific Northwest for massed effect. Whole basins are carpeted with 
them acres upon acres. The Cascades abound with these natural 
gardens. Blankenship Meadows below Tumac Mountain is one. They 
will be found on the sides of Rainier, Adams, and Hood, as well as on 
the Goat Rocks. The sight of 10 or 20 acres of avalanche lilies in 
bloom is breath-taking. There may be a whole hillside of deer s-tongue, 
paintbrush, or cinquefoil. An entire basin may be covered with the 
shooting star or the speedwell. The stream that feeds it may be lined 
with the yellow monkeyflower as far as the eye can see. These flowers 
are all fragile, and their colors are delicate. No matter how often I see 
them I am amazed at their capacity to thrive in this rigorous environ 
ment, for the altitude ranges from 4500 to 7000 feet. 

Though the wild flowers of the Wallowas equal in variety and 
beauty those of the Cascades, the massed effects are not so common 
there. One day Gabrielson and I were discussing the reason for it. He 
pointed out that lava rock soil was predominant in the Cascades and 
granitic rock soil in the Wallowas. Lava rock soil has phosphorus 
and potash in addition to calcium. Moreover, volcanic soils are char 
acteristically dark in color. This gives them heat-absorbing qualities 
that favor the distribution of flowers to higher altitudes than would 
otherwise occur. 

The theory commends itself because in the Wallowas the meadows 
that rest on lava rock (which was uplifted when the mountains rose) 
are the ones that show massed effects of wild flowers comparable to 
those in the Cascades. Probably, also, the greater rainfall in the Cas- 


cades is a factor. The Wallowas are much less humid; their weather 
is more continental than coastal. 

But again, no place for me is richer in memories of massed wild 
flowers than the Goat Rocks. I remember a trip Doug Corpron 
and I once took to Gilbert Peak when we were boys. We camped by 
Warm Lake, where I finally conquered the fear of drowning. The 
snow had not been off the meadow for more than a few weeks. It 
was ablaze with flowers. 

Most numerous of all were the white and red heather, which seem 
to like acid or sour soils the best. John Muir called the white heather 
"hardy" and "adventurous." He wrote of the red heather of the 
Sierra, "No Highlander in heather enjoys a more luxurious seat than 
the Sierra mountaineer in a bed of blooming bryanthus." The same 
may be said of the red heather of the Cascades, whose shrubby and 
wiry stems extend an invitation to stop and sit. These are not the 
"bonnie heather" of Scotland, yet they have great charm. Their bell- 
like blossoms give a blush to an alpine meadow. According to Dayton, 
the ptarmigan love to eat them. 

This day Doug and I saw dozens of other flowers mixed in with 
the heather. They spread at our feet as rich, thick, and bright as those 
in the most decorative of Chinese rugs. Doug was studying botany at 
the time and knew most of them by name. We marked out a spot 
about three feet square. We got down on our hands and knees and 
made a count. There were 30 kinds of flowers in that narrow space. 
I remember only the white and red heather, violets, buttercups, 
saxifrage, pleated gentian, Indian hyacinth, and dwarf phlox. Hues of 
pink, yellow, and blue made this high shelf below the gaunt and grim 
rock seem warm and vibrant. No formal garden was ever prettier. 

When Elon and I climbed Old Snowy we collected over 50 speci 
mens of wild flowers, even if the numerous species of a particular 
genus such as pentstemon, lupine, or monkeyflower be counted only 
as one each. There were acres of Indian paintbrush on the shelves of 
Old Snowy, paintbrush of three or four different shades of delicate 
red that only a master artist could mix. Indian hyacinth and cinque- 
foil were blended into tapestries. In every basin were streaks of white 


and red heather as far as the eye could see; there were on every hand 
splashes of white, pink, yellow, blue, and violet. 

But the plants that held us most were the dwarf lupine and dwarf 
phlox. These were high on Old Snowy above the green basins where 
the paintbrush flourishes. They grow mostly in the coarse dark sand 
that covers the high shoulders of Goat Rocks. It was partly, I think, 
the contrast of the light blue of the lupine and the white and 
lavender of the phlox against the gray, drab soil that was so impres 
sive. But it was also the fact that these dwarf flowers were matted in 
patches all along Old Snowy, and almost to its top, like coarsely 
woven but brilliant scatter rugs laid at random. 

The dwarf lupine is one of a large genus that may have 100 or so 
species. Lupine takes its name from the Latin word for wolf, because 
it was thought to devour the fertility of the soil. Such is not the fact. 
These members of the pea or legume family enrich the soil, as 
farmers knew in the days of ancient Rome. Lupine has been promi 
nent in literature from the time of Virgil. David Douglas was 
enamored with the genus. Perhaps more than any other flower it 
caught the eye of those who traveled the Oregon Trail in the early 
days. Lupines are known as poisonous plants. The roots of some 
species eaten raw are toxic, but the Indians and some of the early 
explorers baked or roasted them for food. The seeds of many species 
are poisonous to stock, especially sheep. 

The dwarf lupine (Brewer s lupine) we saw on Old Snowy was 
true to the lore of the genus. It was flourishing in skimpy soil. But it 
was not the cause of the poverty of this alpine land. It had the magic 
power through the nodules on its roots to draw nitrogen from the air 
and to transmit it to the soil. It was committed to the task of making 
the ground fertile at 7500 feet. Its light blue gave zest to the project. 
Its leaflets, spread into palmate circles, made the plants prim and 
neat in contrast to the rough habitat where they thrived. 

The dwarf phlox is perhaps the most intriguing flower I have seen 
at the very high altitudes of the Cascades, It apparently needs little 
soil. It thrives in a crack of lava rock. With such a tenuous hold on 
life, it sends out its thick mat of lavender and white over a rock sur- 


face several feet square. It is probably at least first cousin to an xero- 
phyte, for it grows in dry, windblown spots. Certainly the high 
shoulder of Old Snowy is as near a desert as high mountains can pro 
duce, having all the bleakness the hardy dwarf phlox seems to 
demand. Gabrielson has said the phlox "hate wet feet." On Old 
Snowy they are buried under deep drifts in the winter and catch the 
large amount of rain water the clouds spill over Rainier and Adams. 
But the coarse sandy soil drains rapidly, producing the poverty of 
conditions under which they flourish. 

In McCall Basin on the previous day we had seen many signs of 
bear and elk. This morning we saw elk tracks almost to the top of 
Old Snowy. We saw fresh bear tracks at the lower reaches of a snow 
field that runs off toward McCall Basin tracks almost six inches 
wide. There were many signs of mountain goats: tracks, droppings, 
and hair. 

These rocks are the ancient home of the goat. Not far south, per 
haps 40 miles as the crow flies, the Klickitat and the White Salmon 
rivers tumble into the Columbia. Lewis and Clark, in October, 1805, 
saw in that vicinity Indians wearing robes of the goat, which Clark 
described as follows: "the wool of which is long, thick, & corse with 
long corse hare on the top of the neck and back something resembling 
bristles of a goat, the skin was of white hare, those animals these 
people inform me by signs live in the mountains among the rocks, 
their horns are Small and Streight." 

The Rocks, rich with lichen and moss, apparently are ideal for 
these animals. Tender shoots of wild flowers grow far up the peaks. 
And there is alpine bunchgrass down around 6000 feet where the 
tree line runs. 

Many times as a boy I saw these mountain goats silhouetted against 
the sky on the ledges above Meade Glacier on Gilbert Peak. The 
slightest movement toward them and they would be gone in nervous 
jumps over the rim or behind rocks. I have seen billies working their 
way across the sides of seemingly impassable cliffs on Tieton Peak, 
where a slip would mean a fall of 1000 feet. In late summer I have 


looked down from Darling and seen goats grazing with elk on the 
back of Short and Dirty Ridge some 30 miles from their habitat on 
Goat Rocks. 

On the top of Gilbert Peak is a rock cairn; and in the cairn is a 
copper capsule placed there by the Cascadians when the peak was 
dedicated in 1949. The capsule contains a parchment scroll and other 
historic data relative to the peak. Previously there had been a tin can 
in the cairn, containing a pencil and notebook where all who climbed 
were expected to write their names. The book we wrote in as boys is 
now gone; but a new one, dating from the thirties, has taken its place. 
A 1948 entry relating to goats indicates that one party saw 30-odd in 
a herd, and one climber put his camera within a few feet of a billy. 

A similar treat almost came to Elon and me the day we climbed 
Old Snowy. We started from West Camp and had worked our way up 
perhaps 500 feet, with over 2000 to go. The slope was a stern 60 
degrees. I was ahead on hands and knees, scrambling through dense 
alpine fir at the foot of a cliff we were skirting. I had cleared the fir 
and had only a few more feet to climb before I could round the end 
of the cliff. A fleck of sandy dust from behind the Cliff whisked by my 
face. In the moments it took me to look behind the rock, the goat 
had gone, I knew it was a goat, for in front of me were his tracks, 
fresh as a pie just out of an oven. 

We saw many surprising creatures higher on the slopes. To begin 
with there was the slate-colored junco. At first we saw this bird stand 
ing alone in the snow fields, intent. Then we saw him in a good-sized 
flock, whirling and wheeling above the snows. We soon discovered 
what he was looking for: dead flies half as big as the housefly, and 
dead mosquitoes. The juncos, like the gray-crowned rosy finches, 
benefit from the refrigeration of the high snow fields and search out 
frozen insects that have perished on their migrations. Five hundred 
feet below the crest we saw a chipmunk that flicked his tail and dis 
appeared in a thick mat of prostrate juniper. In the coarse sand by a 
patch of phlox were big black spiders, very much alive. A host of 
white butterflies hovered over a light blue mat of dwarf lupine. Then 
from the great void came a host of grasshoppers, almost 8100 feet in 


the air on the narrow spinal column of Old Snowy. These grasshop 
pers, we thought, should be on the shores of Packwood Lake, which 
we could see far below us to the west, or on the edge of some other 
water where they could flirt with fish. 

The greatest surprise of all was the hummingbird, which we first 
saw a hundred feet or so below the top. We were virtually on that 
narrow, peaked spot when it darted at us as a fighter plane attacks a 
bomber, or a junco a hawk. It came within a few feet of my face, then 
swooped and disappeared, only to return again and again. She who 
had gone so far to build a safe home resented even a friendly visit. 

We sat half an hour or more on top, watching the slopes on either 
side for signs of goat, but with no reward. Our ridge tapered towards 
the north, its farthest nob looking like a hillock, though it was a 
steep mountain. I often had climbed it to find the obsidian rock the 
Indians used for arrowheads. The obsidian lay exposed there in the 
sunlight, its small flaky pieces looking like bright, shiny bits of new 

Below it to the west was Egg Butte, a lone pillar in a deep canyon. 
Towering over Egg Butte was Johnson Rock, cold and ominous. At 
this angle it showed only a cliff of a thousand feet or more, dark and 
forbidding, filled with deep harsh crevices running virtually straight 
up and down. This year the snow had filled most of them; and its 
brilliance made the blackness of the basalt cliff even more imposing. 
The crags of Ives Peak and Gilbert Peak were now near neighbors to 
the south. 

"What cliffs for expert rock climbers," Elon said. And we fell to 
talking of our earlier adventures on these peaks. 

Elon and I took a difficult route up Gilbert Peak on a later trip in 
1948. The easy course follows the righthand edge of Meade Glacier to 
its head, then climbs a rock escarpment, bears left up a large snow 
field, turns right at the southeastern base of the peak, and follows the 
back of a bladed edge of lava rock to the top. The difficult route, 
which Elon and I chose, kept on the left side of Meade Glacier. This 
course led laterally across steep snow fields where we should have had 


ice axes and alpenstocks, as the snow was more than half turned to 
ice. We had to dig toe holds with our shoes for every step we took. 
Our ankles and toes ached from the digging. Our pace was that of a 
tortoise no more than a hundred yards an hour. There was no great 
danger from falling except the risk of being skinned and bruised from 
a joo-foot slide onto the rough ice of Meade Glacier. But we chopped 
safe steps across the 4oo-yard expanse. At last we came to cliffs that 
had to be climbed. For these we used a rope. It was here that Elon 
went ahead, risking his neck to scale the cliffs. Then he dropped a 
rope to me so that I might pull myself up the wall with hands and feet. 
But that route borrowed trouble. The climb up Gilbert Peak, like 
the one up Old Snowy, need be no more than a stiff jaunt for legs 
and heart that are stout. For the mountaineer it is no more than 
training ground for peaks like Adams and Rainier. 

We found ample room in the early days for horseplay on these 
slopes. We would hurry to the top so we could race crazily down. 
We would sit at the top of the snow fields, hold our feet up, and slide. 
Sometimes we lost control, rolling over and over on the inclines and 
ending in some snowbank, wet through. Years later thirty years later, 
in fact I did the same with my son and Elon and Horace- Gilbert. 
We came sliding down the edge of Meade Glacier in a shower of 
flying snow, shouting and laughing and shrieking. It was still fun. 

In our teens we rolled huge rocks off Gilbert Peak. It was thrilling 
to watch them go crazily down over the snow. They would disappear 
under the brow of some ledge and reappear hundreds of yards farther 
along, bouncing and hurtling through space. Once four of us were in 
a party that climbed the peak. One lad rolled a boulder over his hand 
and cut it badly. He bled profusely and soon fainted. The three of us 
stood him on his head, holding his feet in the air until we knew by 
the commotion he made that he was once more conscious. 

I mentioned this to Elon the day we were on top of Old Snowy. 
And he shouted at once, "Rolling rocks is fun!" And so the two of us 
rolled great rocks onto the fields below and watched them boom 
down the pitch down, down, down until they disintegrated into 


small pieces or disappeared as small specks. We made bets as to whose 
rock would roll the farther. As they raced madly down the mountain 
side we d yell and shout: "Come on Downer/ Come on Buster," 
each cheering his own rock on. That, too, was still fun. 

These peaks of the Goat Rocks are not high as Western peaks go; 
they are around 8200 feet. But no mountain I have been on, not even 
Adams, creates the same feeling of height. The highest point on 
Gilbert Peak is like a crow s-nest at the top of a long mast. There is 
not room for more than a dozen people. Up there one has the feeling 
that the nest rides at the top of the heavens and rules over the whole 
domain of the Cascades. The sides drop directly off into steep canyons 
plastered with glaciers on the east and with rocks on all sides. When 
one peers over the eastern edge he looks almost straight down a thou 
sand feet or more. It s an eerie feeling in a gale, and the sensation 
is only slightly less heady when one stands in a gale on the pyramided 
peak of Old Snowy. 

The day Elon and I stood on Old Snowy, the wind came up from 
the northwest, strong and cool, as if Rainier itself had generated it 
in some deep ice cavern. It ruffled our hair, billowed our shirts, and 
fluttered our pantlegs as though we were standing before a giant fan. 
It flicked specks of sand from the ridge as it licked its cool tongue 
first one way and then another into the recesses on the leeward side 
of this backbone of rock. It whined through the broken escarpment 
of the ridge, whirling madly around each pinnacle or finger of rock. 

Patches of prostrate juniper dot the ridge, closely matted, running 
vinelike over the sandy ground. Dwarf whitebark pine is scattered 
among the juniper knee-high trees, 15, 20, or even 30 years old, 
hanging tenaciously to life and growing almost imperceptibly on the 
rocky ridge. The wind trilled through this juniper and dwarf pine, 
first softly, then more loudly; finally in a great crescendo it roared 
down the snow fields and glaciers of Old Snowy to play a symphony 
in the distant evergreen slopes of Darling Mountain. 

Elon shouted, pointing below, but half his words were blown away 
as quickly and completely as a handful of sand disappears when 


thrown into the ocean. Thinking he might have seen a goat, I un- 
holstered my Luger revolver and fired eight times at a boulder some 
70 feet below me. I hoped to kick out any animal that might be there, 
so Elon could take a picture of it. The sound of the shot was absorbed 
in the wind as if the pistol were muffled. There was no echo, just a 
faraway explosion that might have come from a distant peak. The 
noise and smoke of the gun were gone as quickly as the powdered 
dust of the rock I had peppered with lead. 

Elon, who had started down the ridge, came back and stood be 
side me. Throwing his arms toward the sky, he yelled: "How won 
derful to feel the wind blowing through you on a high ridge!" 

This was the wind that had whipped up the fires the hot lava flows 
ignited tens of thousands of years ago. Too, it had cooled the molten 
lava as it reached out with its hot tongues and inundated the land 
as far as 100, 200, and even 400 miles into Oregon and Idaho. It was 
the wind that had carried the chill of glaciers over the region when 
ice crept down from the north to fill the valleys. The scent of the 
redman came floating down on its wings to the giant beaver, the 
mammoth, and the camel thousands of years before Christ was born. 

I leaned against the wind and talked with Elon. This wind was not 
only tireless, it was timeless. Old Snowy, which always looked so en 
during and eternal, was young compared with the wind. In geological 
time Old Snowy was indeed only the creation of the last brief mo 
ments. By that standard Elon and I were like wisps of sand the wind 
whisked into oblivion. We were indeed as temporary and fleeting as 
shouts floating down deep corridors of the sky and lost at once in a 
vast void. 

As I stood in the cold gale peering into the steep canyons, the 
froth of life seemed to blow away. 

I thought of vain men, pacing up and down on the platform, 
waving their arms, filling the air waves with their noisy complaints. 

I thought of clever men gaining advantages by trick and cunning. 
I thought of men who by manipulation got verdicts and judgments 
and wealth they did not deserve. 

I said those things to Elon and went on to say that nature was 


a great leveler. Men fighting a blizzard on the plains or an angry 
storm at sea at once became equal. The same was true when they 
walk the trails or climb mountains. The fact that a person lived 
on one side of the railroad tracks rather than on the other made 
no difference. Poverty, wealth, accidents of birth, social standing, 
race were immaterial. When man is on his own, mother s accent, 
father s prestige, grandma s wealth don t count. Neither does the 
turn of a phrase or a perfect voice. Tricks and boasting are of no 
account in surviving the adversities of nature. 

Old Snowy has no deceit or cunning. It welcomes and receives 
man on his merits. It aims neither to destroy him nor to flatter 
his ego. It is as genuine and as impartial as the northwester. It is 
a symbol of real freedom, of real equality. "Freedom and equality 
are the ideals that America represents/ I said. "That is the sym 
bolism of Old Snowy in a world where infinite evil works hard to get 
permanent footing." 

Such was the lecture I delivered on the high ridge of Goat 
Rocks. Then like all orators I turned to my audience for approval. 
Elon was the most friendly, attentive one a speaker ever had. He 
shouted at once, "Right you are." 

Then I thought of all the beehives of intrigue every nation has. 
These are the factories where endless energy is expended in whittling 
down one man or woman, in building up another. Ambitions are 
encouraged and generated. The strength of one man becomes the 
source of insecurity of another. A campaign to destroy the dominant 
one starts. Destruction of a man becomes a profession. Subtle 
propaganda spreads through receptions, cocktail parties, and dinners. 
It seeps into columns and editorials. It gets into broadcasts on the 
radio and into news stories. The business of destroying a character 
becomes a full-time job. The business of building up a man also 
becomes a profession; heroes are manufactured by those who make 
that their business. 

I remembered the man who was paid $100,000 to fill the papers 
with smears on me when I was in the midst of my Wall Street 
reform program. I remembered sly, clever little men who planted 


editorials here and there to discredit their competitors, who tried 
to manipulate public officials, who even sought to influence courts. 
I remembered those who whispered that F.D.R. was insane that 
being crippled he was only half a man. 

I remembered men who pleaded in court with great feeling and 
compassion for human liberties and freedom men whose voice was 
the voice of humanity, but whose hand was the hand of a group of 

All that, I thought, is the froth of life that would disappear on 
the wings of the northwester on Old Snowy. It would be gone as 
quickly and as silently as a shout in this gale. The wind would whip 
away intrigue and scheming. It would clear the air of the vain 
boasts of men. The petty politician would stand naked; and in his 
nakedness his character would be revealed. The peddler of gossip 
would be deprived of his pen and his smirk; he would stand whim 
pering and friendless. Schemes would fall helplessly from men s lips 
on this rocky ridge. 

Man stands here as I imagine he stands on Judgment Day 
naked and alone, judged by the harmony of his soul, by his spiritual 
strength, by the purity of his heart. 

I was brought back to earth by Elon. "Daydreaming? 7 

"Yes," I boomed. "Dreaming of all the phonies I have known whom 
I would like to see up here on these peaks all alone." 

"Do they live in Washington, D.C.?" 

"A lot of them/ 

"Well, I have a few pet ones right here in the Yakima Valley. 
Let s start on them and " The rest was whisked away in the gale. 
We laughed and turned our faces to the narrow hogback below us 
that was the trail to camp. 

When I reached the lowest ridge from which I could see Old 
Snowy I turned, clicked my heels together, threw my shoulders back, 
and did what a hard-boiled sergeant at the Presidio in 1918 had 
taught me to do before a superior: I saluted. 

Chapter XVII Jack Nelson 

JACK NELSON is as much a part of Bumping Lake as the Federal 
reservoir. The reservoir, impounding 38,000 acre-feet of water, was 
the first of six built by the Bureau of Reclamation to service 400,000 
acres in the Yakima Valley. It was finished in 1910, Jack was its 
first gatetender, a job he held until he retired in 1946. 

Jack was born in New York City of parents born in Scotland. 
He is stocky, white haired with warm blue-green eyes. By training he 
was a pharmacist. At the time the reservoir at Bumping Lake was 
being constructed he worked in a drugstore in Yakima. He went up 
to the lake and applied for the job of gatetender but was turned 
down. Only a married man would be considered. 

"Give me a week/ said Jack. The Bureau agreed. That Saturday 
Jack rode the weekly stage from Bumping Lake to Yakima 65 
miles. He was looking for a wife. He found her. She was a cook in 
a restaurant in Yakima. She was the lovable Kitty who came over 
land from Nebraska as a youngster and lived not far below Grand 
Coulee Dam where her parents homesteaded. Jack and Kitty were 
married and back at Bumping Lake the next Friday. Jack got the job 
of gatetender. Thirty-seven years later he told me, "We came up here 
on our honeymoon, Kitty and I, and weVe been on it ever since." 

Since retirement in 1946, Jack and Kitty have remained at Bump 
ing Lake during the summer and most of the winter. They have 
cabins they rent. The cabins and a dining room were built in the 
early years, somewhat in self-defense. Jack and Kitty long have been 
known for their hospitality. Their cabin was near the road s end. 
There the trails took off into the high Cascades. It was only natural 
for one to stop at the Nelson s cabin, the last contact with civiliza 
tion along the frontier. 


Kitty had a cup of coffee and doughnuts or coffee cake for every 
one. That was the way she first greeted me, in 1912 or 1913. I 
came up the road in a hard rain, headed for Fish Lake. I left my 
horseshoe pack on the Nelson s back porch and stood in the kitchen, 
dripping water on the clean floor, while I sipped Kitty s hot coffee 
out of a big, thick cup of white china. Jack sat by the stove, made 
light of my discomfiture, told of the glories of the mountains, and 
spoke of the exciting adventure of walking the trails and discovering 
the secrets of the woods. 

Somewhat the same thing happened to every traveler who went 
that way. If it was mealtime, an extra plate would go on the table 
for him. Jack is most generous. "He d give a friend anything he 
had/ said one admirer. "He d give away everything but the lake. 
He couldn t give that away because it belongs to Uncle." 

Kitty s cooking and Jack s conversation were irresistible. The lists 
of acquaintances broadened into lists of friends and these friends 
were unwittingly on the way to eating Jack and Kitty out of their 
sustenance. So the cabins went up and the Nelsons remained 

Jack s job in the summer was to operate and maintain the reser 
voir gates and keep the outlets free of driftwood. Summer and winter 
his responsibility was to maintain 23 miles of telephone line. He also 
kept the weather records, including snow measurements. 

Bumping Lake is a wet spot. The average annual precipitation 
is about 44 inches. The average snowfall is 204 inches. The heaviest 
snowfall was 40 feet in 1915-16. One February, during a 36-hour 
period 62 inches of snow fell. The blizzards that sweep the canyon 
are dangerous to anyone caught in them. Sub-zero weather is com 
mon, the average minimum being 5 degrees above. As Jack often 
said, this was "no place for a sissy/ The closest neighbors were 23 
miles distant. From November to April, Jack and Kitty were on 
their own. At such a time the telephone was most important, for 
it was their only contact with the world. Their mail was left with 
the neighbors 23 miles away. The letters were read to Jack and 


Kitty over the phone. If they wanted to send a letter, they tele 
phoned the message to these neighbors, who wrote it for them. 

As a boy I heard Jack s stories of the winters at Bumping Lake. 
There were tales of hardship and adventure. One I will never forget: 
One January Jack had gone down the road 16 or 17 miles to repair 
a telephone-line break. He finished the job and at night returned 
to his halfway cabin at American River, 11 miles below Bumping 
Lake. It was still snowing the next morning, so Jack telephoned 
Kitty and told her he couldn t reach the lake that day. Three feet 
of fresh snow had fallen on top of three or four feet of old snow. 
Jack decided to break trail with his skis as far as he could and re 
turn to the halfway cabin that night. But he was able to travel only 
a few miles and back that day, for the snow and wind never ceased. 
It looked as if he d be snowed in for a week. 

Jack then had a brain storm. He telephoned Kitty to close the 
gates of the reservoir that night. Bumping River would be dry by 
the next morning and Jack figured he could go up the river bed 
on foot. That night Kitty closed the gates. Next morning Jack skied 
the few miles over the trail he had broken the previous day, stacked 
his skis, and started up the river bed. This was about 7 o clock. 
He discovered that 9 or 10 miles below the dam the water was not 
entirely out of the river. His feet were soon in it, for the exposed 
rocks and gravel were coated with glare ice and the going was 
treacherous. Jack traveled steadily but carefully, often getting into 
water up to his knees. "That was when my hair would nearly raise 
my hat off," Jack once told me. 

He was soon chilled through by the icy water. The wind whipped 
snow into his face. He was numb. He had to stoop to the gale to walk. 
He dared not stop, for he knew he would freeze to death before he 
could ever start a fire. He took 8 hours to go 8 miles. He was 
then at Goose Prairie, 3 miles below Bumping Lake, and it was dark 
ening. Kitty would be worried, so Jack in spite of his great weariness 
increased his pace and fought off the drowsiness and cold that 
threatened to enfold him. Soon he saw footprints in the river bed 
that Kitty had made earlier in the day when she had been down 


the river looking for him. He found skis and poles stacked for him 
under a tree. And just as he reached them Kitty appeared with a 
lantern she planned to hang there as a beacon. 

When Jack tells the story today, he is filled with a great emotion. 
Once I commented on it. He said, "When Kitty and I met that 
evening in the blizzard we fell into each other s arms and cried, un 
ashamed. Our meeting put to shame the romance of any embrace 
that ever followed the minister s words: 1 now pronounce you man 
and wife/ Our love was never more devout than in that moment of 

"But Jack, you had enough experience to know that the river 
route would be treacherous and dangerous/ I said. 

"I know/ said Jack. Then after a silence he added, "Shows 
what a man will do to get home to a lady named Kitty." 

There is the New England imprint on Kitty even to a slight twang 
in her voice. Her features are sharp. There is friendliness in her 
hazel eyes. Her clear skin shows the touch of many suns. Her high 
forehead and silver hair give her a patrician look. She is a person of 
few words, but those are always to the point. She is an expert fisher 
man. She knows the trout and seldom fails to get her quota. She 
likes best to go to the high lakes of the Cascades and sleep on their 
shores. Jack calls her "one of the oldest living campfire girls." She 
has long been hardened to the life of the woods. One day at Cougar 
Lake she and her companions saw seven bears. Kitty chased three of 
them out of camp in the early morning. 

Usually Kitty had to do her fishing at Bumping Lake. She would 
fish from a boat an hour every day, if she could. 
"Did she always catch fish?" I asked Jack. 

"Almost always. And when she didn t, she d always have an inter 
esting report of what she had seen." 
"For example?" I pressed. 

"An osprey or fish hawk putting on his diving act hundreds of 
violet-green swallows performing with graceful swoops." 

Kitty is a woodsman in every respect. Snowshoes and skis are her 
familiars. Many times she has gone down the river on skis alone. 


And now, at the age of 71, she still covers the trails of the Cascades 
on horseback. To this day she and Jack ski the 12 miles from Bump 
ing Lake to American River in the dead of winter. Early in 1949 they 
made the trip in five hours, double the time it took them in their 
thirties but still a record for people in their seventies. 

Bumping Lake was a lonely spot during the winter. But Jack is 
not one to eat beans and hibernate. His mind always has been 
active. He has broad intellectual horizons. A catalogue of his library 
would suggest that the owner was a professor of history or political 
science or perhaps of English literature. There are Adam Smith and 
Stuart Mill; all of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Dickens, Thackeray; 
the Harvard Classics; Baker s life of Woodrow Wilson; Toynbee; 
American history books, particularly history of the Pacific North 
west and chronicles of Lewis and Clark; books on trees and shrubs 
and flowers; books on Indians. Jack is an omnivorous reader. He 
would hold up his end of a conversation in almost any drawing 
room I am acquainted with from Yakima to Park Avenue. 

When Jack had a book in his hand and Kitty at his side, he was 
happy. The winters were long but not boresome. It had only one 
monotony and that was food. The meat was pork in a barrel. The 
only green vegetable was cabbage. Once I asked Jack about that diet. 
He replied, "You know, by the first of March I d be willing to cut 
a man s throat for a green onion." 

Jack is a student and a philosopher. He has seen enough of the 
footsteps-of-spring and the larkspur, the avalanche lily and Indian 
paintbrush, snowslides and sunsets, blizzards and hummingbirds, and 
all the raw material out of which the great universe is fashioned to 
know that man does not have many of the answers to the secrets 
of life. And so he can trip an upstart with a gentle question or inspire 
a sensitive and inquisitive lad with an offhand suggestion of mysteries 
unseen or unsolved. Jack s first article of faith is that there is a 
Force or Being wiser and more potent than man. Jack often has 
been called the Hermit of Bumping Lake; but the Sage of Bumping 
Lake is more fitting. 


I knew him first as a storyteller. He is not a garrulous man. At 
times, however, he will hold forth for hours, spinning tales in a way 
that would compete with storytellers of any age. He is a Scot and 
at times a dour one. But he was expansive more often than not, and 
from these talks I built up a supply of yarns of the Cascades. 

Jack talks with childlike simplicity. There is not a trace of warning 
in his face or voice as he spins on. I liked to think all of his tales 
were true. But Kitty would say, "You don t believe everything he 

Fascinating characters played roles in his tales: Uncle Tom Fife, 
Wildcat Matheson, Beaver Bill, Bacon Rind Dick, Pete Cresci. There 
was Six-Fingered Pete who, indeed, had twelve fingers and twelve 
toes. These were flesh-and-blood people who frequented the moun 
tains. One or two Jack "would not trust with last year s calendar." 
But most of them were warm and lovable characters. And I felt I 
knew them all from the stories spun around them. 

I remember best Jack s story of Charlie the Swede. Charlie was 
watchman on certain mining properties at Gold Hill on the Ameri 
can River. He went to Yakima and spent all his money on a big 
drunk. As he was recovering from his spree he started home for 
Gold Hill. It was winter, and after he reached American River his 
travel was on snowshoes. 

Charlie had a trapper friend, Jack Campbell, who ran his trap 
line up American River. So he decided to inspect the traps as he 
went along and save his friend a trip. The first trap held a lynx. 
Charlie killed the lynx, reset the trap, threw the lynx over his 
shoulder, and continued on his way. He shortly came to a second 
trap with a lynx in it. He killed it also, threw it over his shoulder, 
and pushed on. When he reached the third trap, it also held a lynx. 

"Wonder if I m seeing things," Charlie mused. "Maybe that 
whiskey got the best of me." 

But so far as he could tell the lynx was real and alive. So he 
killed it and put the three of them over his back and mushed along. 
In a while he came to the fourth trap. He could hardly believe his 
eyes, for it too had a lynx. 


"Now I know Fve been drinking too much," said Charlie. So, 
squeamishly, he hung up the three lynx he had killed and went on to 
Gold Hill, leaving in the trap the fourth one he thought he had seen. 

A few days later he met Jack Campbell. He told him the story 
and ended by saying, "You know, Jack, I d have swore I killed three 
lynx. But when I saw the fourth one in your trap spitting fire at 
me, I knew I had the D.T/s. I gotta lay off that whiskey. It really 
had me/ 

When Jack Campbell got to the traps, he found three lynx 
hanging in a tree and a fourth in a near-by trap. 

As he finished the tale Jack Nelson said to me, "Shows what a 
man s imagination can do to him in the woods." 

I believe it was Jack who first told me of Wawa, the giant 
mosquito. Kuykendall suggests that the finding of the bones of the 
pterodactyl in this region may have been the origin of the legend. 
(The History of the Pacific Northwest). In any event, Wawa was 
bigger than a man and had a strong, swordlike bill three or four feet 
long. Anyone who came near him was doomed. He would run his 
bill through his victim and suck out the blood. He had killed so 
many people that Coyote, benefactor of the Indians, became alarmed 
and decided to destroy him. One cold day Coyote went to Wawa s 
lodge and asked whether he might build a fire for Wawa s comfort. 
Wawa, suspecting no trick, invited Coyote in. Coyote built a huge 
fire, then quickly smothered it, filling the lodge with smoke. Wawa 
lay down on the floor in order to breathe. Coyote at once split open 
his head with a stone knife. Out of Wawa s head came a swarm of 
mosquitoes of the size we know today. Since then the mosquito 
has not been able to stand smoke. Thus Coyote not only rid the 
land of a vicious enemy of the people; he also taught them the 
best protection against mosquitoes is a smudge. 

But according to Jack the smudge is good only against the current 
crop of mosquitoes. It is of little avail against those that winter 
at Bumping Lake. Give a mosquito a couple of winters in that hardy 
climate and he comes out highly aggressive, immune to insecticides, 
trained in the art of using a smudge as a smoke screen for attack, 


equipped with a bill that has a point as sharp as diamonds, and with 
armor that will survive all but a direct hit behind the ears. Jack 
had many a rough night with these veterans. He likes to tell about 
the time he was asleep in the tent where he had his bed for 35 
years. A flock of these hardbitten insects invaded. Jack knew that 
orthodox methods of getting rid of them were of no avail. So he 
arose, lighted a candle, and stalked them. When he maneuvered one 
into a corner of the tent he would quickly put the flame to it. There 
was no other sure-fire way. In this manner Jack stalked and killed 12 
in 30 minutes. There was one mosquito remaining. He was the 
granddaddy of them all. He was so wise and agile it took Jack a full 
10 minutes to corner him. Jack finally maneuvered him into the 
top corner where the walls of the tent met the ridge. Jack was about 
to use the torch, when quick as a flash the mosquito turned and 
blew out the candle. 

The whole region from Bumping Lake to Fish Lake is ideal for 
the mosquito. It is damp and moist during most of the summer. 
But better still is the plateau above Bumping and to the south 
the plateau of many lakes, the marshy meadow land that Tumac 
Mountain overlooks. Among these is the beautiful Blankenship 
Meadows, rich in wild flowers and decorated with the loveliest 
balsam fir of the whole Cascades. On the early maps Blankenship 
Meadows is called Mosquito Valley. And the name was most ap 
propriate, for here the hardiest of all the Cascade mosquitoes grew 
and thrived. 

According to Jack they are the best breeding stock in the region. 
Some person with a devilish mind carried some of them down 
into the valley, crossed them with woodpeckers, and produced what 
Jack calls a swamp angel. It has the woodpecker s size and skill 
and a mosquito s temperament and appetite. The swamp angel comes 
out when it rains and attacks with a vengeance. 

From Jack I had my first stories of Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox. 
Puget Sound was dug by Paul Bunyan to be the grave of Babe, the 
ox. The Babe was sick and no medicine would cure him. Paul was 


sad as he dug the big hole. The dirt he threw up became the 
Cascade Range. He was almost finished when the Babe got into a 
supply of wood alcohol and epsom salts and suddenly revived. The 
Babe rose to his feet, still attached to Paul s bunkhouse and hot-cake 
griddle, and went off lunging and snorting. The hot-cake griddle hit 
the Cascades at the place where the Columbia River now runs and 
dug out the Columbia gorge. 

Goose Prairie, three miles below Bumping Lake, is a natural 
meadow of a few hundred acres set in a thick forest of pine and fir. 
In June it is ablaze with color. Acres of lupine paint huge streaks of 
blue across it. There are lesser streaks of yellow and white and red. At 
such a time Goose Prairie is richer and more varied in color than any 
of man s creations. 

The Goose Prairie flower I saw as a boy that I remember best is 
the vanilla leaf or sweet-after-death. The leaves when drying do 
indeed have a sweet odor, for they contain some coumarin. Its slender 
cluster of white flowers stands high on a single stem that rises above 
one leaf divided into three broad leaflets like the strawberry. They 
have no petals or sepals, only naked stamens and pistils. The plant Is 
sometimes called the butterfly, for when the center leaf is removed 
the two side ones resemble a huge butterfly with wings spread. The 
plant carpets the region around Goose Prairie. It is found in the shade 
along the road as well as in the meadow. It is the finest of all moun 
tain grass or leaves in which to wrap trout. 

Goose Prairie was the homestead of Tom Fife and his father John 
who laid their claim in 1886. They came to this country from 
Fifeshire, Scotland in 1866, and first worked in the coal mines of 
Pennsylvania, later moving to Wyoming where they prospected for 
a while. Then followed two years work on the Mormon Temple at 
Salt Lake City. They pushed west, came up the Yakima Valley, 
passed through the town itself, and headed up the Naches Canyon, 
where the quiet and cool of the fir and the pine beckoned. They 
soon came to Goose Prairie and at once laid claim to it as a home- 


stead. Not many years later Tom christened it for a lone goose that 
visited the meadow one evening and stayed the night. 

Today Goose Prairie has a store and a post office, and is most 
famous for the Double K Ranch where Kay Kershaw and Pat Kane 
give dudes of all degrees a warm welcome, and show them on skis, on 
horseback, or afoot the glories of the Cascades. The Boy Scouts fine 
camp at its northwest edge was a gift from Tom Fife. 

Tom loved Goose Prairie with all the love man is able to bestow on 
land. From the beginning it was a symbol of freedom for him and 
his father. Here the grass is knee-high in June, The air is pure and 
clear. Old Scab, Buffalo, and Baldy watch over the meadow from the 
south. At dusk there are deer on its edge. Scotch bluebells reign. 
There are rainbow in the Bumping River, whose clear waters carry 
even in midsummer the chill of snow and ice. Here a man can be free. 
He can trap and hunt and fish and run stock if he wishes. There is 
no bell or whistle to summon him to the mines. 

Tom built a small y-by-g cabin with a fireplace at one end where the 
cooking was done. He had but one book, and that was a collection 
of Bobby Burns poems. Tom lived there most of each year until his 
death in 1922. When Tom s father died in 1890, Tom made a coffin 
of tamarack and dug the grave. But the coffin was too heavy to be 
lowered alone, so Tom walked 23 miles to get a man to help him 
pkce the casket in the grave. Today Tom lies buried beside his father. 

I saw Tom Fife many times when I was a boy. He seemed a gruff 
man, but those who knew him say he was warm and friendly and 
understanding. According to Jack Nelson, his heart was "as big as a 
frying pan/ One day Tom returned from Yakima with a badly needed 
pair of shoes. Some miners stopped at his cabin on their way out 
prospecting. Tom was a prospector. He had mining claims at Gold 
Hill on the American River, and on the Rattlesnake. None of them 
ever panned out, but he was sentimental about them, naming the 
first one Blue Bell in memory of his native land. Tom knew the ways 
of prospectors, their problems and their adversities, and the long 
trail down which these prospectors were headed. When he saw that 


the shoes of one of the party were virtually gone, Tom presented this 
unknown character with the new shoes. 

By commercial standards Tom was not a success, for he probably 
made but a few hundred dollars a year. Even his cougar traps baited 
with chickens did not work. But there was always a pot of beans on 
the stove; and any wayfarer was welcome to share them. 

Jack likes to tell about the Christmas dinner he and Kitty had 
at Tom s cabin. They had been down to the American River to fix 
up a ramshackle log cabin as a halfway house for winter use. When 
they had cleaned it, plugged up ratholes, and put in a supply of fire 
wood, they loaded their packs and started the return on skis to Bump 
ing Lake. They were weary by the time they had traveled the nine 
miles to Goose Prairie. Uncle Tom stuck his head out of his cabin 
and called to them to come and "break bread" with him, A big black 
pot hung over the fire, steaming an odor that was most appetizing. 
Tom with pride removed the cover and told his guests to take a look. 

"It was an eyeful/ says Jack. "There, full life size, floated several 
pine squirrels with heads, eyes, and toe nails intact/ 

"Red squirrel mulligan/ is what Tom called it. They ate it with 
fresh scones and coffee. 

"No Christmas dinner ever tasted better/ 7 says Jack. 

Kitty adds, "Let s say none was ever more unique." 

Shortly before his death Tom decided he must do something for 
his adopted country. The utmost expression of his affection could be 
made only by a gift of that which he prized more than anything else 
Goose Prairie. But how could Goose Prairie be useful to America? 
One day an idea came to him. It was a wonderful idea. He must tell 
someone. So he raced the three miles to Bumping Lake to break the 
news to his closest friend, Jack Nelson. He burst in on Jack, breathless. 

"I ve got it! I ve got it! I know what I can do for my country. I 
will give a part of Goose Prairie to the Boy Scouts. They can learn to 
be men up here." The old man choked up, with tears in his eyes. He 
could say no more. Thus did a mountain meadow reach deep into the 
heart of a Scot. 

Fifes Peaks lie north of Goose Prairie. They are sheer cliffs with 


jagged points rising above a ridge. They stand erect and confident and 
proud like Tom Fife himself. 

One day I was walking the shores of Bumping Lake with Jack 
Nelson. He was showing me the trees, which are to him "the greatest 
of all inanimate things." Bumping Lake lies too high for ponderosa 
pine, but somehow a couple of them do grow there. Red and white 
fir flourish in that area; so does the balsam fir. The western hemlock, 
mountain or black hemlock, tamarack, Engelman s spruce, yellow 
cedar, lodgepole and whitebark pine, and yew trees are there. Jack 
touched each one fondly. 

We stopped by a balsam fir that pointed spirelike to the sky. He 
commented on its beauty and we admired it. He turned to me and 
spoke movingly of his friend Tom Fife, a man he loved and admired 
above all others. And he ended by saying, "Well and often do I 
remember when Tom called my attention to some bit of beauty a 
dash of color on the hillside, a shapely tree, a flower. He spoke with 
such reverence that anyone could readily sense the depth of inner 
feeling that went into his expression of adoration for nature." 

There was a quaver in Jack s voice as he spoke. His eyes were 
moist. He was silent for a while. In a few minutes he said, "You 
know, Bill, some people have urged me to paint the beauties of nature 
that are here. After a fresh snow the hills are clear cut and the trees 
are bent with a burden of white. Then Mother Nature invariably 
wears blue and has most of her diamonds on. In the fall the tam 
arack and willow and Douglas maple set the woods on fire with color. 
There is the beauty of an electric storm with Nelson Peaks standing 
illuminated for a split second against a pitch-black sky. There is an 
evening when a soft mist floats over the lake, gradually blotting 
everything from view." 

"Why don t you try to paint some of those scenes?" 
"I can t paint nature, Bill. I can only paint men and women." 
I walked straight into his trap. "I didn t know you painted men 
and women, Jack." 

"Sure I do. Men over one door and Women over another." 


That is Jack s way of escape when some great wave of sentiment 
threatens to overpower him. 

Jack directed the work at a CCC camp in the Cascades during the 
thirties. He had charge of a group of young men shipped out of the 
eastern industrial centers, lads who had known only the morsels of 
life. If they did not snatch and grab, they would go without. With 
cunning and deceit, like Coyote, they survived only by outwitting 
others. Life for them was an appalling insecurity, with the result that 
they developed aggression, pessimism, distrust of every living soul. 
They had never known, since they left their mothers arms, human 
kindness and warmth. People had always barked and snarled. Friend 
liness was a stranger. Jack tells of one chap by the name of Farrel, 
who had been a window washer in Brooklyn. One day the strap that 
was holding him broke and he fell four stories into the courtyard of 
an apartment house. 

"That didn t knock me out/ said Farrel. "Just dazed me. But it 
left me some ugly scars/ 

"What happened?" asked Jack. 

"Well," replied Farrel, "I naturally did some groaning. What 
burned me more than anything was a woman on the second floor. 
She poked her head out the window and yelled, My husband works 
at night and tries to sleep in the daytime and I want you to quit 
making so darn much noise down there/ " 

Jack saw a transformation take place in these men. Gentler qualities 
appeared. Aggression diminished. When pitted against nature they 
became mellow. There is no place for cunning or deceit when man is 
against the forces of gravity or has a Douglas fir to contend with. 

"Many phases of CCC were too expensive/ says Jack. "Some were 
waste. But the fact that the boys were kept as Americans was worth 
the cost. Otherwise they would have been leaning on the corner 
lampposts or sitting in criminal courts. The Seabees benefited later 
from the CCC training of these men, and the Forest Service program 
was advanced at least 25 years. The durable benefits to the nation 
and the individual boys were immeasurable." 


This assignment Jack prized. For he could mold men and their 
characters in the deft way his hands could guide the sapling tamarack 
so it would grow 200 feet straight toward the sky. 

Jack at some time may have been on a horse, but for years he has 
gone afoot. He explained it by saying a man on foot sees more and 
learns more than a man on horseback. The morning s newspaper of 
the woods is indeed more legible to the man afoot. The mark of the 
bear, cougar, deer, elk, coyote, or porcupine that preceded him are 
plain to see. Miner s lettuce or spring beauty or the tender scarlet 
gilia might be missed by the man on horseback. Even the flycatcher s 
nest could go unnoticed, or the caddis hatch on the stream, or the 
flight of the eagle through the woods, or the coral mushroom. 

While writing this chapter I received word that Jack had broken 
three records: he had hunted deer, ridden a horse, and slept in a 
sleeping bag. Primordial man has strange quirks in Jack. A deer is too 
much a thing of beauty to hunt. As for sleeping bags well, they are 
too civilized. "In the woods I always leaned against a tree for sleep 
ing," said Jack. 

I once asked him what he would do differently if he had his term 
of years at Bumping to serve over again. 

"Up here we have always been 65 miles from a dentist; and for 
many years a good share of that mileage could be covered only by 
foot. If I had it all to do over again, I would have all my teeth pulled 
at the start. Then, if any of them started to ache, I d ship them down 
by parcel post for repair." 

Two years after Jack retired I drove up from the Double K Ranch 
to call. He was in a happy mood. He talked for hours, telling old 
stories and entertaining me with varied yarns from his rich folklore. 
Then for several minutes there was quiet. I asked him what final 
paragraph or sentence he would write about his long life in the 
mountains with Kitty. He reflected for several minutes and then he 
said: "Bill, people can t live as long as Kitty and I have under these 
peaks without knowing there is some Supernatural Force that rules 
over us all." 


After a long pause he continued, "The birds of Bumping Lake show 
His amazing handiwork/ 

Then he told me of his study of birds. He had classified 63 different 
kinds that he had seen at the lake in the summer. These covered a 
notable range: ouzel, junco, heron, pipit, thrush, swan, loon, jay, 
grouse, tanager, finch, wren, robin, sandpiper, killdeer, kingfisher, 
crow, swallow, siskin, chickadee, raven, bluebird, dove, vireo, eagle, 
vulture, grosbeak, woodpecker, flicker, owl, sapsucker, hawk, warbler, 
blackbird, crossbill, nuthatch, hummingbird, sparrow, duck all as 
neatly classified as Ira Gabrielson or Stanley Jewett would have 
managed it. 

I asked him about birds that are winter residents at Bumping Lake. 
He had seen more than 30, including the ouzel, belted kingfisher, 
blue heron, merganser, winter wren, bkck capped chickadee, chestnut- 
backed chickadee, Steller s jay, Canada jay, magpie, raven, rosy 
finch (the ones that love a building made of logs with the bark on), 
pileated woodpecker, red-shafted flicker, red-breasted sapsucker, white 
tailed ptarmigan, great gray owl, Cooper s hawk, sharp-skinned hawk, 
Clark s nutcracker, native pheasant or ruffed grouse, Franklin s grouse 
or fool hen, blue grouse, crow, western goshawk. 

Jack spoke of the birds with tenderness. Top billing went to the 
water ouzel or American dipper. It needs open water but there is 
usually some throughout the winter at Bumping Lake. 

"There s no need to feed it in the wintertime," said Jack. "It walks 
deliberately into water and disappears without effort, using its wings 
to fly under water." This bird over and again had dived for my dry 
fly when I cast for trout in the Bumping River years ago. I asked him 
why he had such great affection for it. "Bill, it can sit and teeter on 
an icy boulder on the coldest of days and sing its heart out to you. 
One loses all thought of discomfort when this prima donna gives her 

The number-two spot, according to Jack, goes to the winter wren, 
a tiny bundle of energy and rarely still. "The volume of its music 
always makes me stare when I see the midget that is producing it." 

During the winter Jack gets on intimate terms with the chickadees 
and Canada jays or camp robbers. They sit on his hand or hat and eat 


their daily ration. The nest of the Canada jay has long piqued his 
curiosity, but he has never found one. He has seen these birds in 
March gathering moss, bits of cloth, cotton, and so on, and leaving 
for higher elevations. Jack has tried to follow them to their nests 
without success. They disappear from Bumping Lake for two months 
or more. Those that return seem to be adults. 

I asked about the summer birds. "The Beau Bruminells of the 
summer are the western tanager and the western evening grosbeak. 
It s a wonderful sight to see up to 250 grosbeaks in one flock in the 
fall of the year." 

It s the pileated woodpecker that gives Jack and Kitty the most 
company throughout the year. "He s got a wingspread of two feet/ 
said Jack. "And he s handsome." He went on to say that this bird is 
one of a family making a living with their heads. The woodpecker 
is the first one up in the morning, followed closely by the robin. 

"His sledge hammer blows on a dead tree on a frosty morning can 
be heard a mile. I ve seen him become so interested in digging for 
worms and grubs in rotten stumps that I ve walked to within five feet 
of him." 

After a pause Jack added, "Noisy neighbor, this woodpecker. But 
I wouldn t be without him." 

It was the loth of January, 1947, and 12 degrees above zero. 
Jack s successor at the reservoir, C. R. Ford, saw a strange bird sitting 
on the dam at the lake. He walked to it, took it in his hand, and 
carried it in to Jack, who recognized it as an oyster catcher. It lived 
only a short while. 

"That bird," said Jack, "was 135 miles from salt water. The weather 
had been foggy for a week on the coast and this black oyster catcher 
had become bewildered, crossed the main divide of the Cascades, and 
landed exhausted on the dam." 

Jack finished talking of his birds with this: "Years ago someone 
wrote that birds are little feathered bits of God. Nothing more 
appropriate could be said." 

Outside the cabin we stood looking to the south. The sun was 
low, painting the edges of clouds in brilliant colors. Jack touched my 


arm and pointed to Nelson Peaks. They were touched with fiery red 
that flamed only for a moment. Then the curtain was drawn and 
Nelson Peaks disappeared. 

The sun went down and we returned to his cabin to sit by his 
fireplace watching the sparks of pine logs go up the chimney. At last 
he said: 

"When man can look at mountain peaks with a deep sense of his 
own littleness and still have faith 

"When man can learn how to make friends with others and how to 
keep friends with himself 

"When man can hunt birds and deer without a gun 

"When the moonlight on a mountain lake or a snowcapped peak 
breaking through storm clouds brings calm and peace like the thought 
of one much loved and long dead 

"When man knows how to pray, how to hope, how to love 

"When man can find the time to stop and look at the grass and 
trees and mountainsides and come to know them and call them 

"When man can see the handiwork of the Creator in the bluebells, 
spring beauty, and avalanche lilies and in the water ouzel, winter 
wren, and woodpecker 

"When man can feel the sense of eternity even in the wind that 
blows from the northwest off Rainier 

"Then man has found contentment and harmony and peace." 

That is indeed what I learned when I sat as a boy at the feet of 
Jack Nelson in the wilderness at Bumping Lake over thirty years ago. 

Chapter XVIII Roy Sduuffer 

THE last words Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to me were "How are 
Thunder and Lightning?" This happened at a Sunday luncheon at 
the White House three weeks before his death. Luncheon was over 
and he had transferred to his wheel chair. The attendant was wheel 
ing him away when he turned and asked the question. 

Thunder and Lightning are horses. Thunder belongs to my son 
Bill and Lightning to my daughter Millie. We acquired them in a 
curious way. 

Back in northeastern Oregon, my wife and I were building our 
tamarack log cabin on the Lostine in the Wallowas. Roy Schaeffer, 
who runs a dude ranch near by, was in charge of the project. Fonzy 
Wilson, whose work with ax and saw is superb, was head carpenter. 
The walls and roof were finished, but no windows or doors were in 
and the floor had not been laid. At the end of a July day we were 
sitting on nail kegs, listening to Roy tell of the Nez Perce Indians 
who had the Wallowas for their ancestral home. Roy revered Chief 
Joseph, whose land had been wrested from him in one of the na 
tion s least honorable undertakings. While Roy talked, a stranger 
came down the path through the woods. His Levis and his walk 
showed him to be a cowboy. Roy seemed to know him, for the two 
spoke. The stranger joined us but sat in silence for the better part of 
an hour. 

Then my son, who was about ten, came up from the river where he 
had been fishing. At the first break in our conversation the stranger 
turned to him and said, "Got a horse, sonny?" 

Bill shook his head. 

"Like to have a horse?" 

Bill s eyes lighted. "Sure would/ 7 

"I ve got a horse for you, sonny." 



Perhaps from some Scotch impulse I spoke up, hating at once what 
I asked: "How much, stranger?" 

"How much? I just gave the boy a horse/ 

We went down to get the horse in a few days. He was a three-year- 
old chestnut, racing and snorting with tail high, on the range north 
of Wallowa. The stranger was Dan Oliver, and the horse we named 

Several weeks after Dan gave Thunder to Bill, Millie came up to 
the cabin for a few days where Roy, Fonzy, and I were still working. 
At the end of one day I built a campfire outside and cooked supper 
for the children. During dinner Roy turned to Millie and asked, 
"Did Bill tell you about his horse?" 

Millie is the horseman of the family. She can ride like an expert 
and hold up in any competition. She has an understanding of horses 
given to few. Knowing them, she is unafraid and is their master. The 
idea that her younger brother had a horse when she had none was 
preposterous. If there was a horse in the family, it had to be her 
horse. She turned to me: 

"Bill hasn t got a horse, has he, Dad?" And there was a note in 
her voice that asked me to tell her that Bill certainly did not have a 

But I nodded, "Yes, he has a horse." 

The effect was worse than if I had slapped her. She burst into tears 
and sobbed, "Why does he have to have a horse when I want one?" 

So I told her of Dan Oliver and Thunder. But the sobs did not 
stop. A wind came down the canyon and stirred the tips of the jack 
pines at our backs, a chill wind for early August. I threw a log on the 
fire and we sat around it. Millie s plate was untouched as she sat with 
her face in her hands staring into the flame. 

Perhaps ten minutes passed when Roy put down his cup, stood 
up, turned to Millie, and said, "If Dan Oliver can give Bill a horse, 
I can give you one." 

Millie was on her feet, dancing up and down and shouting, "Where 
is it, where is it?" 

"In the North Minam Meadows." 


"Lets go get it! Let s go right now, Daddy." 

A few days later we rode the seven miles over the mountain range 
to the west and down into the North Minam. Roy had a dozen two- 
year-olds at pasture there, and he rode up the meadows to find them. 
In a while the horses broke through the woods at the edge of the 
clearing, stood for a second, and then stampeded across it. 

"Take your pick/ 7 shouted Roy. And Millie picked a slim-legged, 
light-footed sorrel the one with the most fire in his eyes. She named 
him Lightning. 

I told President Roosevelt the story that winter, and he said, 
"You re doing all right for a Scotchman." 

"Not as well as I would like/ 

"You mean you are looking for a third horse for nothing?" he 

"Exactly, Mr. President. And when I thought of people who might 
give me a horse, I kept thinking of you/ He threw back his head 
and laughed in his hearty way. 

Roy Schaeffer is the same kind of warmhearted, generous person 
Franklin Roosevelt was. With a man in need he d share his last slab 
of bacon, his last pound of coffee, and in the mountains he d care 
for him and expect no reward. The suggestion of a reward would, I 
think, hurt. He is indeed one of the few I have known who like to 
give more than to receive. He will die as he was born, poor in worldly 

Roy Schaeffer is the man I would want with me if I were cata 
pulted into dense woods anywhere from Maine to Oregon. He knows 
Oregon best, but in any forest he would be king. For he is as much 
a part of the woods as the snowberry, the mountain ash, or the buck 
deer. The woods are part of him. Above all men I have known, he 
would be able to survive in them on his wits alone. 

Roy is quiet and unassuming in any crowd. He is tall six feet two. 
He is big 240 pounds. His eyes are blue. And his hair, now thinned, 
was once a wild and unruly shock. Roy s parents were the first white 
people married in Wallowa Valley. He was born there January 5, 


1888. It was 60 degrees below zero that day. The rugged scene into 
which Roy was bom is symbolic of the environment through which 
he has moved during his "life a life on the plains and in the high 
mountains of eastern Oregon. He has worked long hours deep in the 
Snake River canyon in the heat of summer when the lava rock of the 
canyon walls turned it into an oven night and day; he often has slept 
in a hollow in the snow at the top of the Wallowas with a blizzard 
howling overhead. 

He married Lucy Downard in 1908 and for the honeymoon took 
her to Bear Creek Saddle in the high Wallowas. This saddle is a great 
rolling meadow about 8000 feet up, at the head of Bear Creek, sur 
rounded by low-lying rims of hills gripped by jagged fingers of granite. 
They hold Bear Creek Saddle close to the clouds. At the time of his 
marriage Roy owned a band of sheep. He left them at Bear Creek 
Saddle while he hurried down to Wallowa to claim his bride. They 
returned at once on horseback to the sheep camp. From that time 
Lucy has shared the hardships of Roy s life and also has brought him 
five children Charles, Annamay, Ivy, Dorothy, and Arnold all of 
whom love the mountains as do Roy and Lucy. 

Roy owned this band of about 900 sheep for six years. During that 
time he came to know both the summer and winter ranges of the 
Wallowas. He sat in snow, rain, and sunshine on their hillsides and 
saw the life of the mountains at work. The mountains became as 
familiar to him as a factory is to a man who works there. 

After Roy sold his sheep he was a jack-of-all-trades. But most of the 
jobs took him to the back country. He was the champion of sheep- 
shearers. He sheared by hand 200 sheep a day and better. He is a 
strong man; but sheepshearing taxes the strength. Bending over, hold 
ing the animal, working the shears through the tough wool this is 
killing. Of all jobs, it came close to exhausting Roy s great energy. 

Between sheepshearings came a variety of jobs on farms and in 
lumber camps, with a few winter months in Union Pacific round 
houses repairing locomotives. "That work/ Roy once said to me, 
"was the part of my life that was wasted." He loves the outdoors and 
it is punishment to assign him to inside work. Most of his days have 


been spent in the mountains taking fishing parties to high lakes and 
hunting parties to high ridges or deep canyons. In the winters he has 
done much trapping for marten. In 1934 he bought Lapover, famous 
dude ranch of the Wallowas. 

Roy s strength is prodigious. His hands are like hams. Each of them 
is so strong it could crush a man. Taking hold of it is similar to grasp 
ing a wild steer by the horn. There are many stories of his feats and 
most of them have a Paul Bunyan touch. One fall he and three others 
were hunting deer in the Grande Ronde canyon. Roy became sepa 
rated from the others. He rejoined them late in the afternoon to find 
that one had shot a buck. The three men had worked out a scheme 
for division of labor in getting the deer out of the canyon. One 
would carry the rifles while two would carry the buck. Roy met them 
as they were resting for a short climb. He tied the four legs of the 
buck together, slipped his rifle barrel underneath the knot, raised 
the rifle to his shoulder and started up the canyon wall. It was a good 
2000 feet to the top. The buck weighed 185 pounds dressed. Roy 
stopped a few times on his way up but he finished ahead of the 
other members of the party. 

Many years ago he figured he was spending $120 a year for chewing 
tobacco, which was too much for his budget. He decided to short- 
circuit the retailer and manufacturer and go directly to the producer. 
He wrote to Hawesville, Kentucky, and found a man who for $10 
would send him a good sized box of unprocessed tobacco. It is the 
leaf and stem of the tobacco plant, dried but otherwise just as it 
comes from the field. It comes in three strengths: mild, strong, and 
extra strong. Roy orders the extra strong. For $10 he gets a supply 
that lasts a year. He takes the plant and crushes it into a coarse 
powder and carries this in a cotton bag that Lucy made for him. 

This tobacco is powerful. Though many have tried no one but Roy 
has been able to chew it. He has bet that no one else can chew it for 
a half-hour and so far no one has won the bet. One man who chewed 
Roy s tobacco only ten minutes spent all night behind the chicken 


coop. Roy s reputation has spread. No one bums a chew off him. He 
also smokes this tobacco in a pipe, and has yet to find a smoker who 
can inhale it. 

The habit of chewing tobacco has affected his speech, so that he 
does not move his lips when he talks. He probably could have been 
another Edgar Bergen if he had tried, for he speaks from the stomach. 
It is a deep guttural sound, hard for the newcomer to pick up. But 
it has great carrying power. I have been 100 yards from him in the 
woods and heard what he said even though he did not raise his voice. 
He talks as I imagined, when a boy, that an Indian would talk. 

Roy is an expert shot with a pistol and rifle. He can take his six- 
shooter and hit a horsefly with one shot at a distance of 30 feet. One 
evening I saw Roy with his 30.06 hit empty shells that we threw high 
in the air. He never missed. He can do better than that. I ve seen him 
take a .22 Remington, throw out a shell, load the gun and hit the 
shell with the second shot before it hit the ground. Roy has seldom 
missed his buck even at 500 yards. 

Roy has a great respect for the animals that inhabit the forests. 
Coyote is the exception. Coyote plans his campaign of killing with 
some of man s thoroughness. Roy has seen coyotes station one or 
more of their band at the bottom of a draw while one went to the top 
of the ridge in search of a deer. The deer, once jumped, raced down 
the ridge with the coyote in full pursuit. When the deer reached the 
bottom, tired and weary, there would be fresh coyotes lying in wait 
to take the next leg of the relay. 

In hard snow, the coyote takes a heavy toll of deer. He runs on top, 
while the deer keep breaking through. So the coyote gradually gains 
on the deer and quickly snaps the tendons in its rear legs. The deer 
is down, and the coyote is at its throat in a flash. Roy has known one 
coyote to kill 20 or 30 deer in a winter day in that way, taking a few 
mouthfuls from each carcass. For the killing is not primarily for food; 
the coyote kills for the joy of killing. He hamstrings elk as he does 
deer when he finds them wallowing in deep snow. 


Roy is for the extermination of the coyote. "If man wants deer to 
hunt/ says Roy, "he must eliminate the coyote. The deer cannot 
long stand to be hunted by both/ 

And so January finds him at Salem, Oregon, talking with legislators 
in an endeavor to get a bounty placed on coyotes one sufficiently at 
tractive to make every farmer s boy in the county look for a coyote 
den when spring rolls around. 

Roy and I were hunting in the Snake River country, camped on 
Lightning Creek several miles above its mouth. Lightning Creek runs 
into the Imnaha, and the Imnaha runs into the Snake about five miles 
below the confluence of the Imnaha and Lightning Creek. These 
waterways flow out of the most deeply scarred and rugged canyons of 
the continent. Hell s Canyon of the Snake, a dozen miles or so above 
the mouth of the Imnaha, is indeed the deepest canyon of the conti 
nent 2000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon. It is 7900 feet from 
the lip of the ridge to the surface of the water. Here the Astor over 
land party foundered. Here Captain Benjamin Bonneville was turned 
back. Here the Snake is one of the most treacherous of all rivers to 

The Lightning Creek canyon in which we were camped is no ordi 
nary canyon. The valley at points is a quarter-mile wide, with the 
canyon walls rising 2000 to 3000 feet. Centuries of erosion have ex 
posed on either side layer after layer of dark lava rock, each from a 
few feet to 20 or 30 feet thick. The north slopes of these canyon 
walls are carpeted with the famous Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoen- 
sis), and the south slopes with bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron 
spicatum), the bunchgrass that is found on the hills out of Yakima, 
the most important indigenous grass of the Pacific Northwest. These 
grasses stand a foot to two feet high in the Snake River country. At 
a distance of a few miles they look like the nap of a yellow-green 
velvet that flows softly over the canyon walls. 

Here and there thick stands of pine and fir make dark patches on 
a light green landscape, sometimes sprawling the whole length of a 
deep draw or lying in a thick mantle over the shoulders of the range. 


The slopes and hill crests have only straggling evergreens to adorn 
them. It is as if a forest were sown with an uneven hand. 

Sheltered ravines holding springs or a creek cut ugly gashes in the 
canyon walls. They always have shelter, for even where the pine and 
fir are absent they are filled with willow, cottonwood, alder, elder 
berry, sumac, and chaparral. This vegetation forms a spine of high 
brush that runs the whole length, crawling 2000 to 3000 feet up the 
hillside like a sinewy green serpent. There are rattlesnakes in the 
draws and on the rimrock. 

There are several ways to hunt this country. One is to send a 
member of the party circuitously to the saddle at the head of one 
of the draws. He goes a roundabout way so as not to disturb the deer 
that may be in the draw. After he is at the top, another hunter 
goes directly up the draw. The deer go out ahead of him at the 
saddle, where the ambush is laid. That is the way my son and I 
like to hunt that country. Another method is to work up the moun 
tain along the side of a ravine, rolling rocks into it in order to 
flush any deer that may be bedded down. That is the way Roy 
and I hunted on this particular October day. 

We usually would be 500 feet or more above the bottom of the 
draw, working along its sides under outcroppings of rimrock. The 
rocks we rolled into the draw bounced in abandon down the slopes, 
weaving weird patterns in their paths. They would disappear into the 
brush; and in a few seconds a deep, muffled, crashing sound traveled 
back to us. Then the silence of the canyon would return, as if 
its sleep had been only fitfully interrupted. We would stand alert, 
looking below for the slightest movement in the ravine. 

These were tense moments. I knew for the first time the feeling 
not only of the hunter but of the hunted. The quickened pulse as 
the rock plunged off the hillside; the tingling suspense as it veered 
first one way ? then another; the pounding heart and the feel of its 
breath as it went rolling by. I understood the psychology of the 
deer: to freeze and to hold ground, to stay quiet and still as a 
statue, until and unless the rock came perilously close. Then and 
then only would a break for safety be made. 


Roy must have made a close hit with one rock. A four-point 
buck broke into the open, coming out of the draw and onto the 
slope across from him. The buck first stepped softly and then in 
two bounds got behind a lone ponderosa pine. 

There is plenty of time," thought Roy. "I ll sit down and take 
careful aim." 

There did, indeed, seem to be plenty of time. For the buck had 
1000 feet to travel to the top, with no brush or tree or ledge to 
offer protection on the way up. Roy sat still for a minute or two. 
Then he said to himself: "That buck is staying behind the tree. I 
must run downhill and get my shot before he gets out of range." 

Run down he did. He went off at an angle, running 50 yards or 
more before he stopped. When he prepared to draw a bead on the 
buck, the tree was still between them. Whichever way he turned 
the buck kept behind the tree, as a squirrel does in any park in 
the land when one comes close to him. In a few minutes the buck 
was gone with the saucy flash of his tail over the saddle. Roy had 
not even had a single shot at him. Later Roy said, "You know, 
Bill, that buck was a lot smarter than me." 

Roy has a great affection for horses. When this powerful man is 
near a horse, he is unfailingly gentle. His hand on a horse that is 
ill or injured has the tenderness of a father s hand at his child s 
sickbed. His voice is soft. And his gentleness with horses is recipro 
cated. I have seen a trembling three-year-old, wild and unbroken, 
become, calm as he touched it and talked to it in a low voice. 

Roy has never owned a pair of hobbles. His horses never leave 
him in the hills. This means, of course, that he picks his camp 
grounds with an eye to the comfort and pleasure of the horse as well 
as to his own. He looks first for horse feed not for grass that 
horses can eat in a pinch, but for sweet and tender grass that is 
rich in protein, like the alpine bunchgrass that grows as high as 
8000 or 9000 feet in the Wallowas, As a result, Roy s horses are 
never far away in the morning. A handful of oats and his soft whistle 
will bring them to him. From November to May they run wild in 


the winter range on the lower reaches of the Big Minam; but 
when Roy goes to get them in the spring they come right to him. 
Then he puts his arm around their necks and pats them, greeting 
them as one would a friend long absent. 

Once when Roy and I were camped at Cheval Lake in the Wallo- 
was, we took a side trip to New Deal Lake. It is a small lake of 
ten acres or so, in a treeless basin. It has eastern brook trout up to 
five pounds. Cliffs shaped somewhat like a horseshoe hem it in. 
Our approach was from above, which brought us to the lake from 
the south side. When we first saw it, it was 500 feet below us. The 
slope was perhaps 45 degrees or more, but it was not dangerous 
except for one stretch. That was a flat piece of tilted granite, 
smooth as a table top, half as wide as a city street, and covered with 
loose gravel. There was no way around it; it had to be crossed. Roy 
was in the lead. I watched to see what he would do. His horse 
stopped and sniffed the rock. Roy spoke to him and touched him 
lightly with spurs. The horse stepped gingerly on the granite. Then 
putting his four feet slightly forward, the horse half walked and half 
slid down the granite with sparks flying from his shoes. 

"Might have slipped in these boots if I had tried to walk," said 
Roy in a matter-of-fact way. And he probably would have, for 
under his lighter weight the loose gravel would have rolled. 

It was then that I thought of Jimmie Conzelman s definition of 
horsemanship. "Horsemanship," says Jimmie, "is the ability to remain 
unconcerned, comfortable, and on a horse all at once." 

One November day Roy had his hunting camp set up near the 
mouth of the North Fork of the Minam. It was a big party, with 
seven or eight tents. It was so sprawled out that from a distance 
it looked like an Indian camp. Smoke came from every tent. There 
was a big center tent where the cooking was done. A few horses 
stood tied to trees in an outer circle, waiting to be saddled. Three or 
four elk hung high above the ground from poles laid between two 

Roy was preparing breakfast, and as he cooked, Mac, a wise, old 
mule, age 35, came up and nuzzled him. When I have been at Roy s 


barn saddling horses, Mac has often come up behind me and given 
me a push with his head, urging me to the door of the barn where 
the oats were kept. He seldom stopped until I gave in. 

Mac was a favorite of Roy s. He always trusted Mac with the 
delicate tasks of a pack train. Mac always carried the eggs and the 
liquids, or any pastry that Lucy might fix for the first night out. 
Mac was never tied onto a pack string. He followed behind, taking 
his time and picking his way. I have seen him stop and look closely 
at the space between two trees, trying to figure whether he could 
get through without bumping or scraping either side of the pack. 
Often he would go around rather than take a chance. He never rolled 
a pack. He often was late in arriving in camp behind a pack string; 
but he always brought his burden in safe and sound. At breakfast 
time he was always in camp begging for hot cakes. 

This morning Roy turned to Mac and said, "Want a hot cake? 
Well, go away and come back pretty soon and I ll give you one/ 

This happened over and again. Finally he fed Mac a few. 

"Now don t bother us any more," said Roy. "Go on." And with 
that he gave Mac a push. Mac stood for a minute and then went 
over to the trail that ran close by camp and started downstream. 

When Roy saw Mac go downstream, he was puzzled. The horses 
were upstream. Lapover was upstream, up the North Minam and 
across a high range ruled by the jagged finger of Flagstaff Point. 
Downstream was the winter range and the town of Minam on the 
paved highway coming up from La Grande. Roy sometimes went 
out that way, but only in an emergency; for when he got out, 
he would be 30 miles by road from Lapover. That was the long 
way around. 

"Let s see where Mac goes," said Roy. 

So we followed him down the trail a mile or so. Roy finally 
stopped and said, "We re breaking camp and following Mac. We re 
moving down the Big Minam and will go out by the town of Minam. 
Looks to me like a big snow is coming. Mac usually knows it before 
I do." 

We broke camp and moved downstream. Before morning a heavy 


snow fell, almost 18 inches, which meant there were at least 4 feet 
on the ridges. And 4 feet are far too much for any pack train. 

The next night beside the campfire Roy chuckled as he said, 
"Mac knew more than all the rest of us put together, didn t he?" 

The high lakes of the Wallowas number 100 or more and lie at 
6000 to 8400 feet. Each has a personality. Cheval is hardly more than 
a pond nestling under granite peaks in a high secluded pocket. It s 
small and intimate a one-party camp. Long and Steamboat show 
wide expanses of water like those in the Maine woods. They show 
broad acres of deep blue water on calm days, and produce whitecaps 
in rough weather. Douglas lies in the high lake basin under Eagle 
Cap. Here there are granite walls mounted with spires like unfin 
ished cathedrals. It is austere or intimate, depending on how one 
comes upon it. Patsie, Bumble, and Tombstone lie like friendly, 
open ponds in a pasture. Diamond, Frances, and Lee have the dark 
cast of wells without bottoms, and water that chills to the marrow 
a few feet under the surface. Blue, Chimney, and Hobo appear as 
sterile as slate, showing clayish bottoms with no moss or grass. Green, 
Minam, and Crescent are lush with algae and moss, rich feeding 
grounds for trout. 

Fish have been planted in 50 or more of these lakes. Roy has 
packed many thousands of fingerlings in to them, carried in milk 
cans and kept alive by the sloshing of the water caused by the move 
ment of the horse or mule that transported them. Sometimes Roy 
while en route to one lake has paused long enough at a smaller one 
to pour in a dipper of fingerlings. Or having a part of a can left 
over, he has climbed a ridge or dropped into another canyon and 
planted a few hundred fingerlings in a remote pond. In that manner 
dozens of lakes have received their fish. Many are nameless lakes, un 
marked on maps, with no trail to designate their locations, tucked 
away high on ridges or in small basins below granite peaks. They are 
deep blue sapphires in mountings of gray and green. 

One summer Stanley Jewett and I were on a pack trip with Roy. 
We were studying the problems of the fish, convinced that in many 


instances the solution was to supply the lakes not with fish but with 
food, such as fresh-water shrimp or periwinkles. We were camped 
at Long Lake. One morning Stan suggested we take a look for 
mountain sheep. 

The bighorns were native to the Wallowas, where they once existed 
in large numbers. Captain Bonneville, who wintered on the Idaho side 
of the Snake in 1832, reported that the bighorns were the principal 
diet of his expedition. But none have been seen in the Wallowas for a 
decade or so, and it seemed incredible. Stan thought the ridge east of 
Long the rocky backbone that stands as a looo-foot granite barrier 
between it and Steamboat was where they might be. 

We started up the ridge early one morning. We soon had to 
dismount and leave the horses, for there was a granite wall ahead of 
us. We were almost to the top when we spotted fresh tracks of 
sheep the unmistakable imprint of the bighorn in fine sand on a 
ledge. We hurried to the top, thinking he might be going ahead 
of us. When we peered over the rim, we saw no sign of a bighorn. 
But there in a meadow of heather was a shallow lake of 10 or 20 
acres. A breeze swept from the south and touched its surface, ripples 
dancing like lights in a dazzling chandelier. In the midst of the 
ripples there was a swirl. An eastern brook, perhaps 15 inches long, 
was rising to a fly. This was an eastern brook that Roy four years 
before had brought here in a milk can tied to a pack saddle of a 
rnule. Now there was life in the once sterile pond. Now there was a 
new reward at the end of an adventurous climb for those who dared 
those treacherous cliffs. 

The North Minam Meadows lie over the range to the west of Lap- 
over. It is a rich bottom land, a mile or so long and a half-mile 
wide, coveted by every man who loves the mountains and has seen 
it. Fortunately it is in a national forest. It has knee-high grass for 
horses from spring until winter. The North Minam meanders 
through, spilling over marshy banks lined with tall grass and rushes. 
Like the Klickitat Meadows of the Cascades, it is ideal for a boy s 
fishing. Here he can hide himself in the tall grass a few feet from the 


river s edge and float his fly on the water. It will not go more than 
a few feet before he has a rainbow or eastern brook. They are little 
fellows, from six to eight inches, but they are every inch champions 
and right for the pan. 

There are ice-cold springs in the meadow, and groves of trees for 
camping. In late June the valley is filled with the fragrance of the 
snowbrush. And from May until August most of the wild flowers 
of the Wallowas will be found there. 

This is where Joseph C. Culbertson came to die. He acquired a lung 
infection from his chemical researches, and his doctors gave him six 
months to live. As Joe lay on his bed, trying to think of the place 
where he would like to spend the last months of his life, he remem 
bered the North Minam Meadows. 

"That is the place," said Joe. 

His wife put their affairs in order and got in touch with Roy. 
It was early May, 1938, and the snow would be out of the North 
Minam. Roy made several trips over and set up camp for the Cul- 
bertsons tents and store beds, medicines and provisions, all the 
accessories of the sickroom. When camp was established, Roy and 
Mrs. Culbertson went back and got Joe. 

Joe was almost too weak for the seven-mile trip from Lapover by 
the Bowman Trail, but somehow or other he made it. For weeks 
he lay in a screened tent in a small grove of jack pine and Engelman s 
spruce at the edge of the North Fork. The Meadows are 5200 feet 
high and in sunshine most of the time from May to November. 
From his tent Joe could see deer and elk at the salt lick, and hear 
the willow thrush singing. Every morning he watched the sun touch 
the eastern rim of the canyon, with its great columns of granite 
rock. One morning as Joe watched he saw the sun touch one rock 
and transform it into a giant eagle. The breast of this eagle is slightly 
lighter than its crest. It stands atop the ridge and commands the 

From his place in the Meadows Joe saw storms make up around 
Steamboat and Long lakes and swoop down on them, often leav 
ing snow and sleet on the ridges even in August. But they brought 


only a light rain to the Meadows. There would be the gentle, almost 
inaudible dripping of the trees during a night of rain. In the morning 
great fingers of mist would start moving up the canyon. By noon 
a west wind would have cleared the valley, and the sun would be 
shining on the rock eagle. Every night there was the soft music of 
the North Minam as it left the marshlands of the Meadows and 
picked up momentum for its wild and rugged journey down to the 
Big Minam, three miles distant. 

By the time the Douglas maple, willow, and tamarack had turned, 
Joe had started fishing in the North Fork. In November when Roy 
packed him and his wife out, Joe was a new man. The Culbertsons 
camped in the meadows in 1938, 1939, and 1940, going in when the 
Bowman Trail was first open and leaving only with the first snow of 
winter. There I met Joe Culbertson, some -six years after he went to 
the Meadows to die. He and his wife opened their camp to our pack 
train and gave us lunch. The next summer I came across Joe after I 
had climbed halfway up the steep trail to Green Lake. Joe had a pick 
and shovel and was starting to construct a new trail to the lake one 
with a more comfortable grade. There was joy in his heart and tender 
ness in his voice as he spoke of the Meadows. 

Others have experienced the same thing. Once Reuben Horwitz, 
construction engineer, had a long vacation coming to him. He and 
Janet had Roy pack them into the Meadows for a stay of several 
months. They camped where the Culbertsons camped. They had not 
been there long when Reuben was thrown from a horse and seriously 
injured. He ended with a long convalescence in the Meadows, and 
like Joe came out well. 

Roy took me there in 1939 on our first pack trip together. When we 
left Lapover, Roy looked to the sky in the south and said, "If s a bit 
too blue. We re apt to have a storm/ 7 The last day or two it had been 
too hot for August. There had been little breeze and the heat of 
the valley was in it. The woods were tinder dry and the dust, pounded 
and churned by many pack trains, lay deep on the Bowman Trail. 
We rested our horses frequently as we climbed out of the Lostine 
canyon. The powdery dust rose around us. And when the horses 


stopped, sweat ran off their bellies and noses and disappeared in 
the dust. 

We were at Brownie Basin, not far from the top of the range, 
when we heard thunder. The storm came quickly. Clouds moved in 
from the south. The heat had hung on the mountain as it does in a 
city long after the sun has set on a humid day. But now it was 
gone in a flash as a strong cold wind swept in, licking the ridges with 
a smattering of rain. The rain turned to snow and sleet. Before we had 
crossed Wilson Basin, which lies over the top on the western side 
of the range, the ground was white with snow. 

I stopped my horse Dan halfway down to the North Minam 
Meadows on the zigzag trail that drops out of Wilson Basin. He 
turned sideways on one of the crooked elbows of the path, as I 
looked down on the meadows a thousand feet or more below me. 
They were dimly visible as through a fog, for the snow at this 
altitude had turned to rain and was falling soft and misty. Sud 
denly Dan reared and snorted and tried to run. I looked up the trail, 
and there coming around a bend was what appeared to be a long, 
dark serpent. It weaved and wiggled as it came down, and once in 
a while raised its head as if better to mark its course. My first 
impulse was the same as Dan s. But in a second I understood. 

Pulverized dust can be as efficient in shedding water as the 
feathers on a duck s back. When it is as fine as flour, it contains an 
air cushion with pores too small to admit water. Thus it can become 
a roller that carries water off a mountainside. That is what happens 
when a flash flood rolls off a dry desert hillside of the west, tossing 
houses and bams as if they were chips. That was what was happen 
ing this August day. A great stream of water was running on top 
of the slick dust of the Bowman Trail. It descended the mountain 
in a rush. Dan did not stop snorting and rearing until he felt the 
familiar touch of the water on his hoofs. 

By the time we reached the Meadows the rain had settled to a 
steady drizzle. It had a stubbornness and persistency that indicated 
it might be with us for days. The trees were dripping; the damp 
ness penetrated everywhere. 

Roy found pieces of pitchwood and had a fire going in a jiffy. He 


piled slabs of dry bark of a red fir on the fire. This is the fuel 
that produces the hottest fire in the mountains of the West. At once 
the atmosphere of a home took the place of the wet woods. 

The best of all fuels in the Wallowas is mountain-mahogany. Its 
coals from the night s fire are hot in the morning. But there is no 
mountain-mahogany in the Meadows, for it grows only on the ridges. 
So Roy said, "Let s get some cottonwood, willow, or alder. It s a 
little better if it s on the rotten side. I learned that from the Indian 
squaws when I was a boy." 

We had no tent on that trip, so before dusk Roy said, "Let s 
see if we can find a dry tree for our sleeping bags." He thought he 
could find one that would shed water for three or four days, and it 
was not long before he did. It was a red fir, leaning slightly to one 
side. It was dry underneath. There we put our bags for two days of 
rain, and they stayed as dry as they would have in a tent. 

The third morning when we wakened the sun was rising in a 
clear sky. We lolled about camp, hanging out blankets and clothes 
to rid them of dampness. When we had finished, Roy said, "You 
know, a man could live in these Meadows just about forever. It s a 
powerful healthy place." 

Then he told me about Joe Culbertson and Reuben Horwitz, and 
how in the old days he used to come here just to sleep off the fatigue 
of sheepshearing. "When God made this spot He made the air a 
little lighter and cleaner. He made the water a little purer and colder. 
He made the sunshine a little brighter. He made the grass a little 
more tender for the horses." 

As Roy talked, three does and a fawn crossed a clearing above 
camp. The yapping of a coyote floated down from the ledges high 
above them. In a little while a bull elk, with at least a six-foot spread 
of horns, sauntered by, as unconcerned as a window shopper on Fifth 

"That elk would act different if the hunting season was on," said 
Roy. "Funny, but they know when it starts. Frighten a herd of elk 
during hunting season and they may leave the country. I ve known 
them to travel 40 or 50 miles without stopping. But deer are different. 


Each buck has his little domain. Maybe it s a draw or a stretch o 
woods a mile or so long. Wherever it is, it s home, and he won t leave 
it. If you re hunting him, he ll circle back to it. He ll stay in the 
country he knows." 

Roy added: "Another nice thing about these Meadows is that 
they are protected by Uncle Sam. That s the way it should be. It s 
against the law to graze sheep here. That s right, too. Pretty soon 
they got to take the sheep out of these mountains. If people are to 
come here and fish and hunt or take pictures and climb these peaks, 
they ll need lots of horse feed. Pretty soon people will discover that 
all the feed in the high Wallowas is needed for horses and deer and 

It was snowing when our pack train pulled out of Bear Creek 
Saddle, headed toward Sturgill Basin and Stanley Ridge. It was a light 
snow and there was no wind, so the near-zero temperature did not 
bite. The snow did not melt as it fell; it powdered our hats and 
shoulders so that we soon were a ghostly looking procession winding 
among the trees of the silent forest. 

An inch of snow had fallen when the pack train reached Sturgill 
Basin. At this point we were high above the North Minam. On the 
ridge opposite us was Green Lake, frozen into a great crystal turned 
milky by the light touch of new snow. And on the far horizon to the 
south the town of North Powder was only faintly visible as the storm 
dropped a curtain of dusk over the mountains. When the pack train 
pulled through the Basin and climbed to the Washboard Trail that 
leads to Stanley, a cruel wind with a severe bite in its teeth had come 
up from the southwest. It drove the finely powdered snow into the 
skin as if it were sand from a blasting machine. 

The ridge along the Washboard Trail is cold in any wind. This 
trail, decorated with prostrate juniper and whitebark pine, winds 
along the hogback west of Bear Creek. At points the hogback is 
only a few feet wide, with the ground dropping 1000 feet or more on 
each side at a dizzy pitch of 60 degrees. In these places the wind 
howled on this winter day as it picked up speed from the downdraft 


that sucked it into the Bear Creek canyon, 3000 to 4000 feet below 
the trail on the right. This trail often passes along the base of jagged 
cliffs that rise as great hackles along the hogback. Here it is often 
skimpy, carved from the base of the basalt cliffs. At these places this 
winter wind hurled its weight against the cliffs and whirled clouds of 
snow into the air. Then it swerved off the cliffs and raced to the north 
with a whine in its throat. 

Below us on the left the land tumbled in disarray into a series of 
sharp ravines that collect small streams of pure cold water in the 
spring and summer and carry them to the Big Minam. The slopes 
leading into them are dangerous. A single horse might pick his way up 
or across these steep inclines, but neither a pack train nor a horse 
with a man on him should venture it. One of these draws ends in 
Chaparral Basin some 3000 feet below the trail. At that point a 
sheepherder s train once rolled into the canyon. Five horses were 
tailed together. The rear one slipped and fell, pulling the other four 
with him. They rolled for half a mile. When they came to rest, 
down on the sharp rocks that line the brush on the lower reaches, the 
five horses were dead and their cargo was scattered over the moun 
tainside. The sheepherder stood briefly with bowed head, as if in 
reverence at the burial of friends; then sadly he turned his horse 
around and headed back to get a new outfit. 

Roy shouted something when we passed this place, pointing down 
to Chaparral Basin. Perhaps he was reminding us of the episode I 
have just told. But the wind was so strong his words were carried 
away, mere petals of snow in the blizzard. 

I have often stopped here on a summer afternoon, enthralled by 
the view. Off to the west in the valley of the Minam is the great 
meadow of the Horse Ranch, where Red Higgins welcomes visitors 
at an airport in the wilderness. The light green of that meadow is 
the only break in the darkness of the conifers and basalt that line the 
valley the only break, that is, except for an occasional glimpse of 
the blue water of the Minam itself. 

This is favorite country of elk and ruffed grouse. Here I have 
found a vast display of exquisite pink pentstemon. Here the wild 
currant and black-headed cones flourish. 


The ridge the trail follows runs north and turns in a great arc to 
the west. From a distance it seems impassable. The sharp cliffs, the 
precipitous mountainside, and the ravines that slash its surface in deep 
and ragged cuts seem indeed to be forbidding obstacles. There are 
in fact not many places where a trail could traverse this treacherous 
ridge. But some sheepman years ago picked his way around great 
rocks, across ledges, and under the cliffs, and found footholds ade 
quate for one-way travel in the six miles it takes to travel the arc of 
the bowl. I always feel at grips with adventure when I look at this 
route. Every step must be taken gingerly. It is as though one were 
walking along a cornice of a building high above the canyons of Wall 

Much of the beauty of the scene had been wiped out by the 
blizzard of this November day. The Horse Ranch and the whole 
valley of the Minam were lost to view. Even the far points of the 
ridge we were on had disappeared. Whirling snow made impenetrable 
clouds in the deep pockets of the canyon below us. The trail traverses 
a virtual knife-edge above Blow Out Basin. Here it seemed as if the 
whole pack train would be blown into the void. 

The wind soon pierced our heavy mackinaws, slipped under our 
chaps, and chilled our legs. The six miles along the rim of the basin 
seemed twelve. Cold reached through to the very marrow. It would 
have been a relief to walk, but the trail was slippery and no place for 
half-frozen people who could only stumble. Roy wisely kept to his 
horse; and the others agreed. We moved in silence, bent forward so 
as to soften the force of the wind that blew us against the cliffs on 
our right. 

By the time we had cleared the rim and come out on the broad 
ridge above Stanley, it was midafternoon and deep dusk. Low, dark 
clouds had swept in from the southwest and cut the vision to a few 
hundred yards. On the open ridge the wind was a gale. Great swirls of 
snow blotted even the pack train from view. To stay in this place all 
night with the expectation of being alive in the morning would seem 
reckless to most people. Yet Roy pulled up by a clump of fir, dis 
mounted, and said, "Guess we better camp here/* 

He cut two poles about 8 feet long, each having a fork at one end. 


He cut another pole about 12 feet long and, using it as a ridge, lashed 
it into the fork of each of the other two poles. He then raised these 
poles and used ropes to anchor each of them to stakes. Then he took 
longer poles, about 15 feet long, and laid them as rafters on the 
windward side of the lean-to, about 18 inches apart, so that one end 
rested on the ridge and the other on the ground. These roof poles he 
lashed to the ridge with twine and rope. Next he took quantities of 
fir boughs and wove them through these roof poles until he had a 
snug thatch that was several boughs thick. He closed each end of the 
lean-to in the same way, weaving fir boughs through cross poles that 
he had lashed into places in those openings. In front of the lean-to 
he built a three-walled open fireplace^ prying up rocks from the frozen 
ground and building a horseshoe-shaped wall 18 inches high with its 
open side toward the lean-to. A fire was started, and in not much over 
an hour everyone in the party was snug and warm. The horses were 
fed oats and baled hay we had packed in. They stood throughout the 
night with their saddles and blankets on for protection. Before supper 
was cooked the blacks and bays and sorrels were so heavily powdered 
with snow they were indistinguishable one from the other. We 
humans bedded down in Roy s lean-to. The wind howled out the 
night and in the morning the snow was over a foot thick. But Roy s 
work had been well done; there were no draughts to disturb our sleep. 

Roy knows the Wallowas in winter. He has buried himself in them 
for a week or more, riding out a blizzard. Sometimes his shelter was a 
cabin; at other times it was a hole in the snow. 

Roy usually ran a trap line for marten from Minam Lake to the 
head of the Copper Creek Basin, an eight- or ten-mile arc in the high 
mountains. It had to be at an elevation of 6000 to 8000 feet, because 
that is where the marten are found in winter. He placed each trap 
on a tree trunk, three to four feet above the ground. He learned about 
marten bait the hard way. One winter he baited his traps with the 
trimmings from elk meat, and as a result he lost a winter s catch. 
Marten do not like fat meat. 

Rabbit, pine squirrel, and blue jays are the best marten bait avail- 


able in the Wallowas. Marten will not touch camp robbers or flying 
squirrels. They love grouse, which in severe winter weather some 
times bury themselves in snow for warmth. 

"We can t see the grouse/ said Roy. "But the marten smells him 
and digs him out/ 

Roy would leave Lapover on snowshoes every week or so for a five- 
day inspection of his marten traps. 

"About a quarter of the traps caught camp robbers, blue jays, and 
squirrels," Roy told me. 

Roy s pack weighed 40 pounds or more. He always took an ax 
for wood and a shovel to dig a hole in the snow for lodging. He 
carried a frying pan, kettle, coffee pot, and a cup, plate, and spoon. 
He took 20 pounds of rabbit meat for bait, and a half-dozen extra 
traps. For food he had coffee, sugar, bacon, whole wheat cereal, 
potatoes, and bread. Roy never took blankets or a bedroll on these 
winter trips, because the weight of the pack did not permit it. At 
night he slept like a bear in a hole in the snow. He cut off the top 
of a snag and with that wood built a fire next to the snag. 

Those who have built fires in deep snow know, as Gifford Pinchot 
observed (Breaking New Ground), that it promptly melts itself down 
out of sight, leaving only a hole with a little steam coming out. That s 
why Roy always carried a shovel on these snowshoe trips. He dug a pit 
in the snow as he followed the fire down. Since the fire was next to 
the snag, Roy was able to take his wood supply down with him to 
the bottom of the pit. In the morning he might be 15 feet or more 
beneath the surface. His bed was fir boughs. If it rained or snowed, 
he would dig an alcove in the side of the pit and crawl into it. There 
he could ride out a blizzard for several days. 

One day, when Roy was reminiscing about these trap-line trips, 
he said to me, "People think snow is cold, but it isn t. It s a blanket 
that has a lot of warmth in it. At times birds bury themselves in it 
to keep warm. I ve seen deer do the same thing. They keep their 
heads out, but they will lie in a snowdrift entirely covered for maybe 
18 or 24 hours." 

The mountains in the winter are cruel to man and beast. The game 


leaves the high country and goes down to winter range. There are no 
berries, roots, or other produce of the woods for food. Travel itself is 
hazardous. A blizzard in the Wallowas may blow 12 days and drop a 
swirling cloud through which man cannot see even 50 feet. Or the 
snow may turn to slush and cling to snowshoes like leaden weights. 
Then a man may not be able to walk more than 2 miles in a whole 
day. In cross-country travel he can readily exhaust himself, and in his 
fatigue at the end of a day sit down to rest and freeze to death. Roy s 
first principles of winter travel are: i) Always take along a shovel and 
an ax; 2) get under the snow when weather is bad; and 3) go slowly 
at the beginning of the day, saving energy for the last few hours -of 
the evening, for a blizzard or rainstorm may come up and change the 
character of the travel. Then a man s life may depend on his reserve of 

Throwing a diamond hitch, putting an improvised shoe on a horse, 
building a lean-to in a storm, carrying a sick or wounded person out 
of a wilderness, cooking, finding the lair of a buck deer or the den 
of a bear these and any of the hundred and one experiences of a 
pack trip are chores that Roy handles with understanding and high 
efficiency. It is the competence one respects when one sees the deft 
fingers of a sculptor at work, or watches the sure eye of an axman, or 
observes a skilled mechanic at a lathe, or hears the master advocate in 
court. It is the extraordinary skill that one finds at the top of any 
profession or trade. There is a finesse and quality about it that 
distinguishes the skill of any champion. 

When I read of the early mountain men I think of Roy. He would 
have been a credit to Jim Bridger or any of the early scouts. He is the 
caliber of man I think Captain William Clark of the Lewis and 
Clark expedition must have been. Clark did not know the outdoors 
as a botanist or biologist or geologist knew it. He knew it as a country 
lawyer without benefit of formal legal education may know the law. 
He knew his way through the wilderness, he could appraise its risks 
and dangers, and he knew where to find shelter and sustenance. Clark 
could not spell very well, and his writing shows some vestiges of 
illiteracy. He was not erudite, but he had wisdom and judgment. 


Clark was a simple, uncomplicated man whq had the knack of 
giving every problem in the woods a practical twist. He was the kind 
of man who could survive though he entered the wilderness empty- 
handed. He had the competence to deal with the day-to-day tasks, 
which, though trivial, added up to life or death. Such a man is Roy 
Schaeffer. He, too, could have done with credit what Clark did. 

Roy was a warm admirer of President Roosevelt. Shortly before the 
1945 Inauguration he got the idea he wanted to attend. He sat up in a 
day coach all across the country and arrived in Washington, D.C., 
late one afternoon. He was dressed in cowboy boots, Pendleton pants, 
a loud plaid shirt, a mackinaw, and ten-gallon hat. He strode through 
Union Station with a battered suitcase, stepped into a taxicab, and 
told the driver, "I want to see Bill Douglas." 

Eventually he ended up at our home in Silver Spring, Maryland; 
and during his two-week visit he captured the town. He went to 
dinners and luncheons and teas; he stayed in character and wore his 
cowboy clothes to all of them. He stood on the White House grounds 
with head bared and saw Roosevelt take the oath. A lady in the crowd 
said to him, "It s always good to see someone from Texas." 

Roy, embarrassed, said, "I m from Oregon, ma am/ 

We walked down Pennsylvania Avenue together, and reserved 
Easterners looked up at Roy and said with friendliness, "Hello, cow 

Roy would touch his hat and, as if speaking to a traveler on a high 
mountain trail, reply, "Hi." 

He pounded the pavements of Washington with his high-heeled 
boots and said to my wife at night, "Walking the Bowman Trail is 

He slept in a bed with white, clean sheets and commented, "Never 
slept inside but what I caught a cold. Wish I had brought my sleep 
ing bag. Then I d sleep on the back porch. It s much healthier out 

As a rock fish, famous product of Chesapeake Bay, was being pre 
pared in our kitchen, he said, "If I had a big flat rock, I could build a 


fire in the yard and cook the fish on the rock. Bet it d be the best fish 
you ever tasted/ 

At a dinner in Georgetown he turned to the hostess who in all her 
life had probably never been in a kitchen and said, "These are good 
biscuits you made, ma am. Some day I wish I could dig a hole in your 
yard and cook you some sourdough bread. It can be real light and 
fluffy, too, you know/ 

One afternoon at a tea I saw Roy surrounded by a group of news 
papermen and -women. He towered above them all, as Flagstaff 
Point towers over his cabin at Lapover. I saw from the expression on 
his face that he was not wholly at ease. I stepped to the outer circle 
of the group to discover the reason. He was being plied with questions 
of politics in Oregon, prices in Oregon, industrial and social condi 
tions in Oregon, and the run of questions a distinguished visitor from 
the Far West might expect from the press of a friendly metropolitan 
paper. Roy is not a man of books. His formal education is slight. He 
seldom reads even in the long winter days when he is snowed in at 
Lapover. But he listens to the radio; and down in the valley he hears 
the talk in the poolhalls and on the street corners. He also listens 
attentively to every traveler who comes up the canyon. His intelligence 
is of a high order. He has insight and understanding of people and 
their motives. And so he has a simple understanding of great issues 
as sound as the common sense of the common people. But he was too 
timid to advance his views to the circle of sophisticated corre 
spondents who faced him at the tea. Finally I heard him say, "You 
folks know all about those things. I know nothing except the moun 
tains. Here in Washington you can write your columns and stories 
and tell me what is true and what isn t. When you come to Oregon, 
then it ll be my turn." 

"What will you do then?" asked a lady reporter. 

"I ll tell you what I ll do," said Roy with great seriousness. "I ll 
blow up the air mattress of your sleeping bag for you." 

In the deep woods Roy would not know how to do anyone a 
greater favor. 

Chapter XIX Food 

THERE are many things to eat in the mountains, and most of them 
are good. Gifford Pinchot, during the days when he rode the trails, 
sampled them freely, eating everything from elk to grasshopper. He 
enjoyed bear roasts, fried cougar, rattlesnake steaks, and stewed 
grouse. Once he told me the best meat of all was the chicken hawk 
sweeter than quail, more tender than pheasant, and more delicate 
than grouse. Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition gives some 
support for this recommendation. He reported that his hunters killed 
three hawks at the mouth of the Columbia in the winter of 1805 
which they "found fat and delicious/ I asked Pinchot what was the 
least palatable of his outdoor dishes, and he answered without hesi 
tation: "Grasshoppers." He had cooked them in deep fat like scallops; 
and they were, he said, as crunchy and tasteless as fried straw. 

Roy Schaeffer rates cougar higher than Pinchot did. The cougar 
meat is like a cat s. And according to Roy it is not far below chicken. 

"Matter of fact/ said Roy when we were cooking a scanty meal on 
a cold night at Bear Lake in the Wallowas, "cat meafs not too bad. 
I knew a Chinaman in eastern Oregon years ago. He ran a restaurant 
and served cat for chicken in all his dishes. No one knew the differ 

"How did he get his cats? Raise them?" 

"No. Caught them with a saucer of milk in the alley." And after a 
pause he added, "You know, cougar is healthier and better than alley 
cats. Hard to get, though. It s a rugged, cross-country hunt with 

Roy puts young porcupine ahead of lamb. He roasts it on a spit 
over coals of mountain-mahogany, cottonwood, quaking aspen, or wil 
low. In his judgment it is perhaps the real delicacy of the mountains. 

The best meat I ever had in the hills was blue jay. Roy and I were 


camped six miles above the mouth of Lightning Creek in the Snake 
River country. It was early October and unseasonably warm. The 
series of lava cliffs that formed gargantuan steps up the canyon walls 
absorbed the heat of the sun and warmed the canyon as a brick can 
warm a bed. In spite of rattlesnakes, we put our sleeping bags down 
in the grass by the side of McLaren s old cabin. We slept with our 
sleeping bags open and unzipped. 

The birds and insects, like the rattlesnakes, behaved as if it were 
late summer. Robins, blue jays, and Hungarian partridges were there 
in abundance. One day I hunted Butcher Knife Creek. It tumbles 
2000 feet or so down a sharp narrow ravine into Lightning Creek. It 
is heavily wooded in spots and is filled with thick brush to the top. I 
scouted its length, perspiring freely in the heat of the canyon as I 
fought brush and dust and rattlers for an entire morning. There were 
plenty of signs of deer, but not even the flash of a tail. When I got 
almost to the top I heard shots above me. When I reached the sum 
mit, I discovered another party camped there and learned that I, by 
working up Butcher Knife, had unwittingly become a beater for them. 
Deer had gone out ahead of me and over the saddle within range of 
the party camped there. One buck was being dressed. 

When I came back empty-handed late in the afternoon, I dis 
covered that Roy had spent a more productive day. He had gone up 
Lightning Creek with a shotgun, and flushed Hungarian partridges 
from a stand of sumac. As they rose, blue jays also rose. The jays, 
being in the line of fire, fell. We had them for supper, fried in butter. 
They were sweeter and more tender than any quail or other bird I 
ever tasted although I have yet to determine whether Pinchot s 
chicken hawk is better. 

Bread was important to us on our early pack trips. As I related in 
a previous chapter, we carried ready-mixed flour in long, thin cotton 
sacks and rolled them in our horseshoe packs. The recipe was Brad s: 

2 cups flour 

4 teaspoons baking powder 
% teaspoon salt. 

FOOD 257 

Sometimes we stirred powdered milk into it, and added fat if we had 

The dough was mixed fairly thick, as it would be for biscuits. The 
cooking was done in the frying pan. When the pan was hot and 
greased, the dough was poured in to fill it. That meant it was about 
an inch thick. We first held it over the fire for a few minutes in 
order to cook the bottom. Then we propped it up in front of the 
fire to finish by radiation. 

It was a main part of our diet. We dunked it in coffee. We carried 
it in our haversack for a noon meal. We picked the low-bush huckle 
berry, made a sauce, and poured it over the bread. "Delicious," was 
Brad s usual comment, though how much was owing to an outdoor 
appetite I never knew. 

Sometimes, when we were lucky to have sugar rather than saccharin 
in our packs, we poured in a half-cup or so. I remember that Doug 
and I did that one night when we were camped at McAllister 
Meadows in the Tieton Basin. In Doug s words, "When it has sugar 
it s cake; when it s plain, it s bread/ 

As boys we made either a mush or a form of bread in the same 
way with corn meal. In frying it, we invariably did what no good 
cook would do we let a scorched crust form, which was to us per 
haps the outstanding delicacy on the early pack trips. 

There is a universal quality about bread, whatever may be its color 
or ingredients. Like air and water and sunshine it is a part of the life 
of all peoples. Like the family, it is part of our traditions. Gandhi 
once said, "God himself dare not appear to a hungry man except in 
the form of bread." Ben Hur Lampman once printed a verse written 
by an anonymous author: 

Be gentle when you touch bread 

Let it not lie uncared for, unwanted 

Too often bread is taken for granted. 

There is such beauty in bread; 

Beauty of sun and soil; 

Beauty of patient toil; 

Wind and rain have caressed it, 

Christ often blessed it 

Be gentle when you touch bread. 


That verse will always have a special value to those who, like my 
self, have marched on bread or got from it the strength to do the day s 

There is no bread in the mountains like sourdough. Roy Schaeffer 
has cooked it for me many times. The night at Douglas Lake when 
he cooked it in a frying pan propped up in a pit is the most memo 
rable. It had a flaky quality that would be hard to duplicate. I asked 
Roy for his recipe, but he said: "It s hard to describe. It s all in the 
way you do it." 

Barney McPhillips, banker from McMinnville, is also a master 
with sourdough. During a hunting trip on Lightning Creek he told 
me, "Sourdough is an art, not a science. It requires a certain state of 
mind in order to be successful. 7 

Neither Roy nor Barney can supply the state of mind. But Barney s 
recipe is a good starting point: 

Sourdough is started by mixing potato water, milk, salt, sugar, and one- 
half of a yeast cake. Mix it up to a consistency that is easily stirred. The 
proportions up to this point are immaterial. When it has risen to at least 
one-half again its own volume and bubbling good, it is ready to use. 

For hot cakes, mix enough flour and water with the starter the eve 
ning before you want to use it, so that it will be the right consistency 
the next morning to make hot cakes without adding either flour or water. 
Pour off enough dough for four people, add a couple of good husky tea- 
spoonsful of baking powder, and as you mix it up pour in a tablespoonful 
or two of bacon grease. Then add a couple of tablespoonsful of sugar, and 
stir vigorously. 

For biscuits, add flour and water to your starter so that the batter is 
as stiff as can be stirred. This should preferably be done about noon, 
although it is all right to do it immediately following breakfast. To make 
the biscuits, pour off the required amount of batter (leaving a starter, of 
course), add baking powder and sugar, douse them in the pan on both 
sides with warm lard, and put in a warm place to rise for an hour before 
putting them in the oven. 

Both of the above recipes are predicated on using the batter every day. 
If it has gotten too sour, a touch of soda is necessary before mixing, both 
for the biscuits and the hot cakes. Care must be taken in mixing it into 
the biscuits or you will have rusty streaks, commonly referred to by old- 
timers as "too much yaller." 

FOOD 259 

The Lookout Coolcboofc, Region One, of the Forest Service says of 
sourdough: "Sourdough bread is much more healthful as a steady 
diet than baking powder bread or biscuits." And it recommends sour 
dough for hot cakes: "Excellent hot cakes may also be made with 
this sourdough batter. Use more sugar than for bread or biscuits. Add 
a little salt, a pinch or two of soda, stir well, and drop into hot, 
greased pan. The consistency of the batter should be the same as 
when making baking powder hot cakes." 

The night on Lightning Creek when Barney was discoursing on 
sourdough, he said, "It works better in high altitudes than at sea 
level. Maybe that s because camp is always at the higher altitude; 
and all food tastes better in the woods." 

I asked him about one s state of mind what a cook should do to 
develop the proper attitude. He laughed. "I knew a cook who said his 
skill at sourdough was due to the bourbon he drank." Then more 
seriously: "With my recipe and a few years practice, a fellow should 
be able to build himself quite a reputation with sourdough." And 
then he told me some of the folklore of sourdough, including the 
story of the old trapper in the Oregon Cascades who in the winter 
took the starter to bed with him so that it would keep warm. 

When I was writing this chapter I sent Barney s recipe for sour 
dough to Roy Schaeffer for comment. Roy told his daughter Anna- 
may that I should be "put right on the sourdough." So Annamay 
wrote me saying: "Dad never uses milk in his sourdough. He makes 
a starter with i quart flour, i yeast cake, and enough warm water or 
potato water for a batter a little thicker than hot cake dough. He 
lets this stand in a warm place for 24 hours." That s all Annamay 
wrote except this. "I think one has to be in a state of mind to even 
tell how to make sourdough and I m afraid I m not in that state of 
mind today." 

And that s about all that can be said about the art. 

Apart from our bread, we had little imagination in our cooking 
during the early pack trips. The dried eggs we took along in powdered 
form were as flat and as tasteless as putty. We never mastered the art 
of making them into savory dishes. Memories of those eggs came back 


when I heard rumblings about desiccated eggs from the American 
servicemen overseas during the recent war. About the same time a 
woman seated next to me at dinner in Washington, B.C. was com 
menting on the waste in our Lend-Lease shipments. Eggs were her 
prime example. "You know what some of the Europeans did? They 
knew nothing about desiccated eggs. So when they got shipments of 
them, they fed them to their chickens/ The memories of dozens 
of breakfasts and suppers on top of the Cascades went flashing 
through my mind. I remembered how flat and unpalatable our dishes 
of such eggs had been. I could almost taste them again. Turning to 
my dinner partner I said, "Madam, that s exactly what I would have 


Damon Trout, electrical engineer of Portland, Oregon, has a recipe 
he calls Pennsylvania Dutch Fried Eggs: 

Cube three or four slices of bread (this will vary with the number of 
eggs you are planning to serve). Brown in butter in frying pan. After the 
cubes have browned, add additional butter and break eggs over the cubes. 
Mix thoroughly, add salt and pepper, and cook either moist or well done, 
whichever is preferred. 

Besides being exceptionally good, if there happens to be a shortage of 
eggs in camp or the bread has become stale, this will prove to be the 

This recipe makes a fine dish for the woods even if powdered eggs, 
mixed with water or milk, are substituted. 

A deluxe way of cooking fresh eggs is that which Frank and Gene 
Marsh, lawyers of McMinnville, Oregon, have developed: 

Take large skillet, number 8 or 10, and fry slowly thick slices of ham, 
with fat left, so to make ham gravy. After ham is cooked, add cream to 
ham fat grease, drop eggs in and cook slowly to taste. Serve eggs on slice 
of toast with ham and gravy. 

When there is only a skillet in camp, Saul Haas squaw dish comes 
in handy. 

Cut bacon into small pieces and fry. Add canned corn (the creamed 
variety preferred) to the bacon and grease. Stir the mixture so as to dis 
tribute the bacon and grease. Add eggs quickly (powdered eggs will do). 

FOOD 261 

Saul knows men who, lost in the woods, lived on this dish for days. 

As boys our cooking of trout was unimaginative. We fried them in 
grease over the open fire. That method of cooking places the trout at 
a disadvantage. The fishy taste is cooked into the trout, and that 
together with the grease (especially bacon grease) kills much of the 
sweetness of the meat. 

Gene and Frank Marsh have a method of avoiding that result 
when it comes to large trout from two to five pounds or to Rogue 
River steelheads* 

Clean and skin, cutting crosswise in four or five pieces, filet if desired. 
Powder slightly with flour, salt, and pepper. Fry in clean skillet with 
butter only. They are best if cooked within one or two hours after they 
are caught. 

But in general trout should riot be fried. Or if they are fried they 
should first be skinned unless they can be fried in bear s oil. Bear s 
oil is the king of all cooking fat. It is best obtained in the late fall 
when the bear is in his prime. Then he manufactures thick rolls of 
fat that often render great quantities of oil. Roy Schaeffer once ob 
tained 30 gallons of oil from one bear. This oil is especially desirable 
for bread, pies, and pastry. It also is superior for frying fish and meat. 
When Lewis and Clark were near The Dalles, Oregon, an Indian 
Chief gave Clark a quantity of bear s oil. Clark fried a salmon trout 
in it and wrote in the Journals that it was "one of the most delicious 
fish I have ever tasted." 

Trout or salmon are sweetest if no oil is used in cooking. Boiling 
is an ancient method, though seldom used today on the lakes and 
streams of the Far West. If it is done correctly, the flavor of the meat 
is preserved, and is not clouded with the fishy taste from the skin. 

My preferred recipe for trout starts, but does not end, with boiling. 
After dressing the trout, place it in boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes, 
depending on the size of the fish. Remove the skin, head, and bones. 
Add salt and pepper to taste and a bit of butter. If a broiler is avail 
able, place the trout under the flame until it starts to turn brown. In 
the woods the same result can be obtained by a reflector oven or, in 
its absence, by radiated heat of the campfire. This method frees the 


trout of any taint of fish oil, leaving all the natural sweetness and 

A trout or salmon (and probably a bass too, though I have never 
tried it) can be cooked exquisitely if it is split and lashed to a board 
that is propped against a fire of any hardwood. Nancy Wilson Ross 
(Farthest Reach) describes how modern Salmon Sluitum is cooked 
in that fashion: 

You make a good fire of any hardwood. (The Indian considered alder 
a necessity since alder smoke gives the salmon an added flavor.) The fish 
are scaled and have their heads, tails, and fins removed. The backbone is 
also carefully removed without cutting the salmon by making an in 
cision down each side of it on the flesh side, not the skin side of the 
fish. The fish is then flattened out and in this position two wooden 
skewers are thrust entirely through it, one near the place where the head 
would be, and the other near the tail. These skewers must have about a 
ten-inch projection because they stand upright on the ground supporting 
themselves against a four-foot-high crossbar of wood, with sawhorse ends, 
which is placed above the coals. Thus, leaning on the crossbar, the salmon 
cook two and a half to three hours, so that the oils are driven by the heat 
back into the fish. Their only seasoning is salt, plus the alder smoke and 
their own inimitable flavor. 

The Forest Service has a recommendation that can be used for any 
fish and is particularly good for fiat fish: 

Cut off the head and tail, split open the back, but do not cut clear 
through, leaving the fish so that it may be opened wide like a book and 
tacked on a plank or piece of bark. Tack some thin slices of bacon or 
pork to the end of the fish that will be uppermost when before the fire, 
and if you like, a few slices of raw onion sprinkled with pepper and salt. 
Sharpen one end of the plank and drive it into the ground before a bed 
of hot coals, catch the drippings in a tin cup or large spoon and baste 
the fish continually until done. 

Oak or hickory are recommended. But in the Pacific Northwest 
mountain-mahogany, willow, cottonwood, quaking aspen, Douglas 
maple, or alder are usually all that are available; but they will produce 
satisfactory results. In the woods this method is sometimes used by 
preference and sometimes because dishes have been lost or left be- 

FOOD 263 

hind. That is how Roy happened to perfect the art of cooking trout 
on a rock. 

He was at Green Lake with a party that had packed in for an over 
night trip from the North Minam Meadows. When they unpacked, 
it was found that all the dishes had been left behind. Roy scratched 
his head and set about designing a method for cooking trout. He 
got a flat rock some three feet in diameter, propped it at an angle of 
45 degrees, and built a fire against it, keeping the fire going for three 
hours. Then he moved the fire back about two feet, dusted off the 
rock, and prepared the trout. He sprinkled them with salt and pepper 
and rolled them in flour. The whole fish was put on the rock, without 
grease. The heat of the rock cooked the underside of the trout and 
the heat of the fire cooked the outside. 

When trout is handled in this way it is dry and mealy. There is 
enough oil in the skin to protect the flesh. When the trout is done, 
the skin is curled and burned. I have found that many who dislike 
pan-fried trout eat great quantities of trout prepared in this manner. 

There was a night at Cheval Lake in the Wallowas when Roy and 
I so operated. We cooked 36 trout that were from 8 to 12 inches 
long. There were four us, and not enough trout to satisfy everyone. 

A comparable result is obtained by adding salt and pepper, wrap 
ping the trout in the thoroughly wetted broad leaves of the vanilla 
leaf plant, covering the package with mud, and burying it in hot 
ashes and coals. Roy has an alternative. He makes a thick dough with 
flour as though for bread and wraps the trout in the dough. The pack 
age is buried in hot ashes and coals. The dough serves to keep the 
trout moist and to protect it from the fire; before eating, it is peeled 
off and discarded. 

The champion of all recipes of this nature was discovered by Ben 
Hur Lampman. I report it in his words, taken from the Oregonian: 

A man came into the office, and seated himself the other side of the 
desk, and said that he had recently read Nancy Morris s instruction on 
how to cook fish that will prove irresistible. It sounded good, he agreed, 
but he himself had a way of preparing fish that was far superior, although 
he greatly doubted if Miss Morris would give the recipe space in her 


column. Nor would you find it in cookbooks. Yet of all fish he remem 
bered, it was trout cooked this way that had lingered unforgettably in 
memory. Why, sir, when he thought of that fish, he could hear the shout 
ing of the south fork where it leaps down the canyon. And first, of course, 
if you would have such fare, you must catch your fish nor should those 
be fingerlings, but deep-flanked specimens as long as your forearm, and 
just as they are when the net lifts them. 

And then, he said, you will make a shallow depression in the sandbar 
and build your fire there. You ask he repeated if we are now at the 
river? Where else? To be beside the river is essential to the recipe. One 
piles the driftwood high, and keeps on fishing while the sand is heated 
and the bed of coals is formed. Now rake the glowing coals aside, and the 
superheated sand, and, having swathed your trout in damp paper, consign 
the fish to this pit. At once restore both sand and embers, and leave a 
small fire burning. Then keep on fishing, say for half an hour. And when 
you judge your trout is done, remove the embers and the sand, and lift 
him in his paper casing to the waiting log. Carefully, carefully now! With 
a flick or so of the knife point the viscera, compacted, are removed. What? 
Well, in those days he had always carried a shaker of salt in his creel. 

And so, beside the south fork, in a slow rain long ago he said they 
had eaten such fish as that of which Walton said it was "too good for any 
but anglers, or very honest men/ A most remarkable trout, with surpris 
ingly little sand in it considering and served with the sauce of hunger, 
which doth surpass all else. 

Salmon pemmican was from time immemorial a staple of the 
Columbia River Indians. Cooked salmon was pounded, salmon oil 
added, and the flesh thoroughly kneaded. It was crammed into 
salmon-skin bags which were sealed with glue. From all reports it 
would keep this way for several years. 

Sometimes the salmon was mixed with the palatable bulbous roots 
of the wapato or camass. Other varieties were made with pounded 
serviceberries, pounded dried venison, and deer tallow. Equal quanti 
ties of bitterroot and serviceberries sometimes were mixed with fat 
and boiled and added to the salmon. Or meal made from sunflower 
seeds was added, together with fat. On occasion, unseeded berries of 
the chokecherry were mashed in a mortar and mixed in. 

Today smoked salmon is preferred smoked over a slow fire of wil 
low, apple, Douglas maple, hickory, or alder. One of the best smokers 

FOOD 265 

of salmon or steelhead I know is August Slathar of Forks, Washing 
ton, whose smokehouse is near Maequatta our lodge by the Quil- 
layute River on the Olympic Peninsula. 

Auggie s process is elaborate. The salmon are cut lengthwise along 
the backbone and then into 4-inch pieces, and washed and scrubbed. 
A layer of these pieces is placed in a stone crock or wooden tub, 
skin side down. This is covered with a light coating of salt "about 
twice as heavy as if you are going to fry them/ 7 Then another layer 
of fish and salt, and so on. 

They make their own brine, and should be left in it 10 or 12 hours, 
depending on the thickness of the fish. Then they are taken out and 
scrubbed (but not soaked) in fresh water and placed on a slanting 
board or screen to drain for three or four hours. Wet fish should not 
be put into the smokehouse. 

While the fish are draining, a good bed of coals is prepared in the 
smokehouse. Auggie suggests peeling the bark if alder is used, for that 
bark makes the fish strong. The fish are placed on latticed trays over 
the fire. It takes four to five days of continuous smoke to complete 
the process. The fire should smolder. Green wood is therefore better. 
The smokehouse should never be over 80 degrees. The process will 
produce good smoked salmon for anyone, though Auggie s special 
skill and know-how give his smoked fish an exceptionally sweet flavor. 

Trout are best preserved by smoking. When they are so treated 
and hung in a sack near a cookstove, they will keep several weeks even 
in summer. That retards molding. 

Smoked trout is a delicacy of the hills, and fairly easy to prepare. 
Roy Schaeffer and I smoked some on a July weekend in a remote 
part of the Wallowas; and a week later President Roosevelt was 
enjoying them at the White House. We were camped at Cheval 
Lake, a hard 12 miles from Lapover. We were catching an abundance 
of eastern brook trout and were eager to preserve them. The weather 
was hot even for the high mountain shelf, so we decided to make a 
smoker for the trout. 

We dug two pits about 3 feet apart and 2 feet deep one 3 feet 
square and the other about 2 feet square. We connected the two 


pits by a trench a foot wide, and covered the trench with bark. The 
smaller of the two pits was our firebox. Strips from tin cans were laid 
across green sticks that we had placed over this pit, leaving an open 
end in the pit where we could insert wood for the fire. We covered 
the firebox and the trench with dirt, driving four 4-foot stakes on 
each side of the larger pit and stretching twine between them. Next 
small hooks out of baling wire were tied along the twine at intervals 
of an inch or so. The trout were rubbed with a generous supply of 
salt and pepper on the inside flesh. (Instead of rubbing the trout 
with salt and pepper before smoking, some soak them overnight in 
a solution of water, salt, and sugar for 5 pounds of trout, 2 quarts 
of water, 3 tablespoons of salt, i tablespoon of sugar.) We hung 
them by the gills on the hooks and covered the scaffold with tarpau 
lin. A fire of rotted pine and fir, built in the smaller pit, was kept 
going from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning 36 hours or better. 
The secret is to keep the trout away from flame and in a steady, cool 
smoke. A small flame should be kept burning so as to rid the smoke 
of gases that make the fish taste strong. The best wood is green wil 
low, or alder with the bark peeled off, but cottonwood or quaking 
aspen will do. Yet even with the rotted pulp of pine and fir, our 
smoked trout were finer canapes than one can buy. 

There is a lot of Labrador-tea in the Wallowas and Cascades. I 
have found it from 4000 to 7000 feet. It is usually found in damp or 
boggy places such as are common in the North Minam Meadows, 
though I have seen it in spots less conspicuously wet. It is a leafy 
evergreen shrub from one to four feet tall. Its oblong, leathery, res 
inous dotted leaves are alternate, with small white flowers in clusters 
at the ends of branches. There are five spreading petals. At the eleva 
tion of a mile in the Wallowas it usually blooms in early July. 

This tea has long been known along the eastern seaboard. The 
Indians used it. Settlers took it up, and it received fame in the Revo 
lution when the British product was banned because of the tax. It 
makes a mild, pleasant tea that suffices in a pinch on a pack trip. It 
is also a good seasoner for soups or mulligans. A handful of the leaves, 

FOOD 2(5 7 

put in a pot for the last five or ten minutes of the cooking, contrib 
utes a delicate aromatic flavor. 

Pit roasting, an ancient form of fireless cooking, was extensively 
employed by the Indians of the Pacific Northwest, especially for 
fresh vegetables. A pit was dug two feet deep and a couple of feet 
wide. A fire was built in the pit until a layer of hot ashes and coals 
was formed; or heated rocks were placed in it. The coals or rocks 
were covered with a layer of wet bracken. The food was placed on 
top of the bracken, and covered by another layer of wet bracken, and 
the pit was filled with dirt. The food would be left in the pit several 
days. In case greater speed was desired, a fire would be built on top. 
This is a method of cooking well worth mastering. It is especially 
handy when one has a headquarters camp in the mountains and is 
taking side trips. When one leaves on a Monday, he can bury 
Wednesday or Thursday night s supper in the ground and have it 
waiting for him piping hot on his return. It also will be helpful if 
cooking utensils are lost or left behind. 

Pit roasting is a superior method of cooking. Any vegetable can 
be used, though some are better than others. Carrots, onions, and 
potatoes are, for example, good ones to include. Small sizes are 
preferable. If only large ones are available, they should be cut into 
pieces no bigger than a walnut. When meat and vegetables are 
cooked together, it is best to cut the meat into slices an inch or two 
thick. After salt and pepper are added, the entire dish is wrapped in 
flour sacking, wrapped again in several layers of heavy brown paper, 
and further wrapped in wet burlap. 

The pit should be about two feet deep, with four or five inches of 
hot coals at the bottom. These should be coals of hardwood. I have 
either built the fire in the pit or raked the coals into it from a fire 
built on the ground. The wet burlap package is placed directly on 
the coals. Rocks can also be heated and placed on top of the burlap. 
The pit is then filled with dirt. If a thick bed of coals is used on the 
bottom and hot rocks on top, a meal of meat and vegetables for al 
most any sized group can be cooked in four to six hours. A whole 


quarter of beef can be cooked this way in 16 hours. That is the way 
we barbecue beef each July on Hart Mountain in southern Oregon 
for the Order of the Antelope. 

A roast can be cooked that way overnight. Damon Trout, who 
cooks roasts of venison or beef this way, places a thin metal sheet 
above the roast before filling the pit with dirt. 

I remember when Roy Schaeffer and I got back to our cabin late 
in the evening after a hard pack trip. We were tired and famished. 
We had come through a snowstorm on top of the Wallowas and 
were wet and cold. The prospect of preparing supper was not a 
cheerful one. Roy excused himself, saying he would be back in a 
minute. I saw him take a shovel and flashlight and enter the woods 
above the cabin. He was back in 15 minutes with a dirty looking 
burlap package in his hands. 

"What s that?" 

"Supper/ he replied. 

"Supper? You re fooling." 

But he wasn t. Three days earlier, before we left on the trip, he 
had prepared this supper and buried it in a pit of coals. 

"Figured we might get back late," he added. 

When the scorched and dirty outer layer of burlap was removed 
and the brown paper discarded, there was a piping hot dish of vege 
tables and lamb. For a supper dug out of the ground and placed be 
fore a weary traveler of the mountain trails it was most satisfying. 

Roasting meat over an open fire is an ancient method of cooking. 
Gene and Frank Marsh have barbecue recipes for this method that 
are the best I have discovered. Their recipe for beef barbecue is 
equally good for venison or elk: 

Roll 35 pounds of boned steer beef, similar to a rolled roast. Run 6 or 
8 skewers or pins Y inch in diameter, 30 inches long, crosswise through 
center of roll, and wire skewers to barbecue irons in position to place on 
frames over open oak wood fire. Cook over medium fire for approximately 
5 hours. Turn frequently and baste with following sauce: 

1 gallon meat stock 

2 quarts tomato juice 

i tablespoon dry mustard 

FOOD 269 

2 tablespoons sugar 

4 tablespoons vinegar 

a bottle Worcestershire sauce 

i cup grated onion 

i clove garlic, minced 

i bottle catsup 

1 pound butter 

2 tablespoons salt 

i teaspoon black pepper 
i teaspoon paprika 
few drops tabasco sauce 

Make meat stock from bones and scraps of beef, boil for -one hour, 
add other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Baste hot. 

Many have discovered that the best meal in the mountains for wet 
or dead-tired people is something that is hot, in semi-liquid form, 
and crammed with calories. Such a food is especially welcome to a 
fisherman or hunter who has exhausted himself on streams or on the 
crags. As the warmth spreads through his body, he will be ready to 
crawl into his bag or sack for immediate sleeping. 

The first of these dishes I ever tasted under those circumstances 
was at the North Minam Meadows. One time when Henry Hess, 
United States Attorney for Oregon, Roy Schaeffer, and I were 
camped there, Henry and I took a day trip to Green Lake, high on 
the ridge to the south. We fished until dusk. By the time we had 
cleaned our fish, put up our rods, saddled our horses, and entered 
the thick woods that lead out of the lake, it was dark. The horses 
circled back on us, eager to return to the good feed they saw at the 
lake. They did that over and again until we were lost. We had no 
flashlight, and only a few matches which we decided to save in case 
we were stranded for the night. We finally found the trail by getting 
off and walking. Once on it, we stayed there by feeling the sides of it 
with our feet. It is only two miles to the Meadows from Green Lake, 
but it took us four hours. 

I was tired beyond words. I had been ravenous several hours earlier, 
but fatigue had taken the edge off the hunger. The cup of stew Roy 
handed me was the most invigorating single bit of food I can recall. 
It is put together as follows: 


Boiling beef should be barely covered with water and allowed to simmer 
all day long. 

Potatoes should be cooked separately and added about a half-hour 
before serving. At the same time add one can of corn, one can of string 
beans, one can of peas, and two sliced onions. Add salt and pepper to 
taste and bring to a boil. About fifteen minutes later add a can of toma 
toes, a can of tomato juice, and a dash of tabasco sauce. Boil for another 
fifteen minutes and serve. 

This stew is served in a cup. 

There is much folklore about frying or grilling steaks in the woods. 
I append a few observations. There is an excellent way of frying steak 
without grease. Wade Hall, of the Forest Service, suggested it to me. 
It comes in handy when there is no grease in camp or when there is 
someone in camp with ulcers: 

Heat frying pan until hot enough to fry steak but use no lard or other 
grease. When pan is hot sprinkle enough table salt in the bottom of the 
pan to give it a gray appearance and then fry your steak as usual. The salt 
will prevent sticking. 

Ferd Oberwinder, advertising specialist of St. Louis, showed me 
the best of all possible ways to cook steak. A thick bed of coals is 
required, preferably of charcoal but the coals of mountain-mahogany, 
oak, or hickory will do. 

Rub salt freely into the steak, dip in olive oil or some vegetable oil, 
and place it right in the coals. Sear each side quickly. Baste with a sauce 
that is made as follows: I bottle Worcestershire sauce, J4 pound butter, 
3 nubbins of garlic, juice of i lemon, i pint of tomato puree. Turn the 
steak frequently, basting on each turn. 

This steak has the aroma of the woods in it. It will be black and 
charred on the edges and will carry a delicate trace of wood smoke. 

Art Abbott, of the Forest Service, who, according to A. G. Lindh, 
"lived and died the victim of a hearty appetite in a land of mediocre 
camp cooks," was largely responsible for the Lookout Cookbook, Re 
gion One, which has many fine recipes, and a few suggestions for 
pack trips such as the following: 

FOOD 271 

Grease top of kettle when cooking fruit . . . and it will not boil over. 

A few drops of vinegar added to the boiling water in which an egg is 
to be poached will prevent the egg from breaking. 

If soup is too salty, add slices of raw potato. Boil and remove. 

Before heating milk in a saucepan, rinse pan in hot water and it will 
not scorch so easily. 

To prevent cheese from molding, wrap in a cloth wrung out in vinegar. 
Then roll in paper. 

In cooking vegetables, cover those that grow under the ground; leave 
uncovered those that grow above the ground. 

A pinch of soda stirred into milk that is to be boiled will keep it from 

When you suspect that your cooking has been scorched because you 
have neglected it for just one moment too long, lift the vessel holding the 
food quickly from the fire and stand it in a pan of cold water for a few 
minutes. In almost every case the scorched taste will entirely disappear. 

Many attractive dishes have been concocted in an unorthodox man 
ner in the woods. On a fishing trip in North Carolina I learned that 
potatoes can be boiled so as to have a roasted or baked effect. To 
every quart of water add a half-cup of salt. When the potatoes are 
cooked and allowed to drain for a few minutes, they will have the 
mealy taste of baked potatoes. 

Simple dishes appeal in the mountains. That s partly owing to the 
hunger that comes from the strenuous exercise. It s partly the fra 
grance of wood smoke drifting along the banks of a stream or wafting 
up from a lake shore. It s partly the enchantment of the campfire 
that draws people together, making each meal an important and in 
timate affair. Fried potatoes then move way up the list of delicacies. 

In the woods, sheepherder s potatoes become de luxe. They are 
made in a frying pan with sliced onions and diced bacon. Water is 
added to keep them constantly moist while cooking. I m not sure 
what appeal they might have in the city. I have been reluctant to try 
them for fear the enchantment might be broken. In the woods the 
odor of potatoes, onions, and bacon is tantalizing. And for me it is 
associated with sunrises in meadows where the heather is in bloom. 
Then the wood smoke drifts through the basin, mixing its odor with 
the fragrance of the breakfast and the balsam fir. 


The aroma of onions cooking over an open fire is one reason, but 
not the only one, why Damon Trout s recipe for Pennsylvania Dutch 
fried onions is especially attractive: 

Slice six medium sized onions and brown in frying pan. To this add 2 
tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar and 2 tablespoons flour. This 
will become quite thick, so water should be added to thin to right 
consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

These are especially good served with venison liver in a hunting 
camp. That is what I said to Leland Hess, Oregon lawyer, when we 
were on a hunting trip high on Catherine Creek in the Wallowas. 
Leland replied: "You re right, but what wouldn t be good with 
venison liver?" 

One July day Wade Hall and I crossed Hawkins Pass in the Wal 
lowas to the Imnaha River. The view from the pass is the most 
startling in the Wallowas. This is wondrously broken country great 
peaks and ridges of granitic rock, distorted as if they were born as a 
result of some great convulsion. The actual pass is a narrow saddle on 
a bleak ridge. 

A distance along the ridge was a snag of ancient whitebark pine, 
finally destroyed after a century or more in the cruel exposure of the 
spot. Scattered along the ridge were bunches of dwarf pentstemon 
(blue beardtongue) and the showy alpine hulsea with its big yellow 
flower heads. All else was coarse sand and granite boulders. The few 
signs of botanical life were a dramatic reminder of the time it takes to 
reduce granite to duff or humus. 

Below us to the east was granite 1000 feet high and shaped like a 
gargantuan bowl open at one end. High on the opposite side a trickle 
of water came from the rock. This was the headwaters of the Imnaha, 
on whose lower reaches Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce wintered. 
The evergreens in the bottom of the canyon were a thick mat of 
coarse hair. 

We dropped off the ridge, followed the river, and camped in white- 
bark pine. The sun was turning the cliffs that command this canyon 
gray and green and then deep purple. We built a fire of willow, and 

FOOD 273 

Wade cooked brigand steak. To do this, he cut cubes of steak, slices of 
onion, and squares of bacon, impaled them alternately on a sharpened 
stick, and broiled them over a bed of coals. The juice from the beef 
and bacon was dripped on bread we held under the food. The odor 
of the bacon and onions filled our little grove of whitebark pine on 
the banks of the murmuring Ininaha. The stars were out when these 
morsels were done. We built up the fire and ate them just as a 
crescent moon appeared over the range to the south. 

The scene brought back memories of a time when I stopped on 
the ridge of foothills west of the Selah Gap out of Yakima and cooked 
myself a small meal the first meal I ever had in the hills, and the 
most exciting. I was in my teens. That was when I went to the foot 
hills to toughen my legs. It was dusk when I reached the northern out 
skirts of town and headed for the railroad bridge that crosses the 
Yakima River there. It was dark when I reached the top of the ridge 
and faced west. Some stars were out. Broken clouds were drifting in 
from the southwest and obscuring most of the sky. These clouds 
were blown by the gentle chinook that had melted snow on the 
ridges of the Cascades and brought the first touch of spring to the 
valley. This night there were scatterings of rain on the foothills, as 
fleeting as the clouds that raced overhead. 

I came to an outcropping of lava and made a fire of sagebrush on 
its lee side. I had no knife or ax and therefore had to tear the sage 
brush with my hands. It had a ruggedness acquired from the adversi 
ties of the desert, but after much pulling I got myself a wood supply. 
The shadows and flames danced against the rock as the fire whipped 
in the wind. 

I had in my pocket a few slices of bread and a little bacon. I held 
a slice of bread on a stick of sage and toasted it on both sides. 
Then I held a slice of bacon on the stick and cooked it over the flame, 
catching the drippings on the bread. This was a wonderful dish. The 
sage was in it, and more. The fire died as I ate the sandwiches. Fi 
nally I started home. Down the ridge, the dampened sage filled the 
air. Now it had new meaning for me. The sage had become a part of 
the food 7 and so at last it had become a part of me. 

Chapter XX Snow Hole 

THE day before Thanksgiving, Roy Schaeffer, Henry and Myrtie Hess, 
and I were going into Lapover. The town of Lostine was wet and 
cold; and the warmth of the big stove at the rear of Crow s general 
store was hard to leave. The Wallowas that reach almost to the edge 
of the town were covered by a lowering sky. A flurry of snow struck as 
we started up the canyon in Roy s truck. There was an inch of snow 
at Pagan Bridge. And at Pole Bridge, which is eight miles from 
Lostine and eight from Lapover, there were a half-dozen inches. 

From that point the road climbs abruptly, skirting the canyon walls 
and winding through lodgepole pine and tamarack. The snow thick 
ened the farther we penetrated the mountains. The Forest Service 
guard station at Lake Creek, four miles short of Lapover, was under 
a foot of snow. By then it was snowing hard. When we pulled into 
Lapover there were 18 inches. 

The clouds hung low over the canyon, cutting from view Flagstaff 
Point on the west and Frances Peak on the east. A wind rose from the 
south, driving the snow before it. Visibility was reduced to 30 yards. 
The light in Roy s cabin extended the promise of warmth, food, com 
panionship, and music from Roy s mouth organ. 

It snowed for two days. Over 18 inches, light and dry as feathers, 
fell on the hardened crust of a foot and a half of old snow that had 
been washed by a chinook and then frozen. On the morning of the 
second day I explored the canyon on snowshoes, heading up the road 
to Turkey Flat and beyond. It was zero; and at each step the snow- 
shoes sank in deeply. 

The Wallowas in the winter are quite different from the Wallowas 
in summer. In a forest, 7 feet, 15 feet, 20 feet of snow work miracles. 
Even 3 feet are a revolution, covering most of the down timber 


and making a broad highway out of a tangled mass of logs and brush. 
Familiar landmarks disappear. A ravine filled with fescue, the scars 
of old slides across a mountain, the thin line of the trail swinging 
back and forth across a steep hillside, a patch of snowbrush, and 
clumps of willow and alder that mark the transit through a valley in 
summer these are hidden from view or transformed. Streams and 
rivers are shrunk to a fraction, as if barely keeping the pulse of life 
going until the turbulence of spring. 

The game has disappeared. The bears are holed up. The deer have 
gone to the lower valleys. Elk have moved farther down where some 
grass can be found and where there are willow, hawthorn, alder, and 
mountain-mahogany for browsing. Even Lapover at 5500 feet is too 
high for them. The cougar and coyote have followed this game, for 
deer and elk are their choice diet. 

Wallowa Valley, where the town of Lostine is located, is one of 
Oregon s most attractive bird areas during midwinter. Even the high 
Wallowas have a goodly number of winter residents. These include 
Richardson s grouse, western goshawk, Rocky Mountain pygmy owl, 
Rocky Mountain hairy woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker, black- 
headed jay, camp robber, blue jay, Clark s nutcracker, Rocky Moun 
tain pine grosbeak, red crossbill, gray-crowned rosy finch, Montana 
junco, water ouzel or dipper, Rocky Mountain creeper, Rocky Moun 
tain nuthatch, red-breasted nuthatch, and mountain chickadees. 
Franklin s grouse and the white-winged crossbill are sometimes pres 
ent, though less common. 

There are also birds that seek out the high Wallowas for their win 
ter home. These are the redpoll and snow bunting that nest on the 
arctic tundras, and the Bohemian waxwing that nests from British 
Columbia north to the tree limit in Alaska. Thus one has some com 
pany in these remote areas even in wintertime. An occasional rabbit 
will appear. Pine squirrels and flying squirrels are present. And in the 
basins the marten make their rounds, traveling long and devious 
routes for food. But no coyote s cry breaks the stillness of the dawn, 
no elk crashes through the thicket. A silence has settled on the moun 
tains, deeper than the silence of the desert. 


The Wallowas at this time retain only a few memories of summer. 
The most conspicuous is the snowberry. This is a bush that Lewis 
and Clark carried back to President Jefferson. Jefferson was enamored 
with it and on December 8, 1813, wrote Madame de Tesse in Paris: 
"Lewis s journey across our continent to the Pacific has added a num 
ber of new plants to our former stock. Some of them are curious, 
some ornamental, some useful, and some may by culture be made 
acceptable to our tables. I have growing, which I destine to you, a 
very handsome little shrub of the size of a currant bush. Its beauty 
consists in a great produce of berries of the size of currants, and 
literally as white as snow, which remain on the bush through the 
winter, after its leaves have fallen, and make it an object as singular 
as it is beautiful. We call it the snow-berry bush, no botanical name 
being yet given to it, but I do not know why we might not call it 
Chionicoccos, or Kalicoccos. All Lewis s plants are growing in the 
garden of Mr. McMahon, a gardener of Philadelphia, to whom I 
consigned them, and from whom I shall have great pleasure, when 
peace is restored, in ordering for you any of these or of our other 
indigenous plants/ 

The snowberry covers the Wallowa canyons, putting out long roots 
from which innumerable shoots appear. In early summer it has a 
flower that can give a pinkish tinge to an entire hillside. Its stems are 
hollow; and the older, coarser ones make fair pipestems. The Indians 
so used them. In late fall a white berry shows, pea-sized and snow 
white. Birds apparently do not touch the berry because of its bitter 
ness. The morning I left Lapover on snowshoes there were snow- 
berries peeping from beneath the snow in protected places under the 
trees. They were as difficult to see as pearls dropped from a necklace. 
When I picked one and pressed it between my fingers, it was as tough 
and nonresilient as a frozen sponge. 

Flagstaff Point to the west had buried its nose from view in a low 
dark cloud floating in from the southwest. Frances Peak, 3500 feet 
above Lapover on the east, was only the vague outline of a great hulk, 
like a point of land seen dimly through a mist. In the summer the 
cliffs below it look like sheer walls of granite. But the powdering of 


the snow had brought out thousands of small ledges on the walls 
thin ledges that a rock expert might use as stairs, albeit skimpy ones, 
to the top. 

There was not a breath of air. There had been no wind for a day; 
the snow made a thick, fluffy icing on the evergreen boughs. At 
Turkey Flat the Lostine River was a narrow dark thread of a stream. 
In the summer it is clear and sparkling, racing with a song in its 
throat to join the Wallowa. This winter day it flowed between snow 
banks, slow and sluggish and shrunken. It seemed to suffer from 
fatigue, barely murmuring down the canyon. Then a water ouzel ap 
peared. He sat midstream on an ice-covered rock and sang his heart 

A hundred yards ahead snow fell from a tree. I thought perhaps 
some animal had touched its boughs. Then I realized that it must be 
the wind, coming in gusty spurts, striking the trees and then veering 
off into the sky. It was as if a hand reached from the dark clouds, 
causing a shower of impenetrable snow. It blotted everything from 
view. I couldn t even see a tree a few feet away. 

"Making up into a blizzard/ said Roy. 

Within the hour the gusts had steadied to a blow. The snow was 
gone from the evergreens. In the summer they were supple, bending 
in high winds as they played the symphony of the forests; but now 
they were frozen sticks. 

The wind stung as if it carried sand rather than snow. It swept the 
snow into little whirlwinds that danced over the frozen meadows. It 
swept the snow from low ridges and piled it against the walls of ever 
greens in the ravines. There was no quality of mercy or tenderness; 
all was harsh and relentless. 

As I bent into the storm and shuffled ahead on my snowshoes I 
thought how unfriendly mountains can be. In the summer there are 
roots to dig, berries to eat, fish to catch. Man can walk or run. He can 
climb the ridges and go cross-country. He has freedom of movement. 
He can sleep out without real danger even if lost. But in the depths 
of winter all is hostile. He may exhaust himself in a few miles. He 
may not find shelter or warmth anywhere. There is no assurance of 


food except what he has on his back. In a few hours the wind and 
snow can drop him in his tracks. 

These were not unpleasant thoughts, for Roy s cabin, to which I 
would return before dark, lay behind me only a few miles. I stood only 
on the edge of the hazards of the woods in winter, so my relatively 
safe exploration of the snowbound canyon became a bit of adventure. 

That evening on my return down the canyon I stopped at our 
cabin, just above Roy s. I leaned on the rough log gate to the drive 
way. As I ended a few minutes of daydreaming I realized that some 
thing was missing. Something familiar was gone. There was an empti 
ness about the place. Here on a late summer afternoon I always hear 
the willow thrush. His nest is below the cabin. His melody floats 
through the canyon each evening until darkness. When day is done 
I listen for him. Now he was gone, wintering in South America. Tiny 
as he is, he left a great emptiness when he departed. 

The next morning the sun was bright. The Lostine canyon was 
brilliant. The rock bulging out of the snow on the canyon walls 
seemed in contrast to be almost black. Every peak, every hump had 
deep snow on its shoulders. There were about three feet in the 
canyon; there were six feet or more on top. The thermometer hov 
ered around zero, and the air was so clear that, as Pat Kane of 
Double K Ranch would say, "It will shatter if you swing your arm 
through it." This was a morning of beauty. I put on my snowshoes 
and headed up the canyon. 

As I mushed along in the fluffy snow, I sensed the silence and 
solitude of the mountains in wintertime. There is no movement, no 
ripple of life anywhere. On such a morning in a high valley under 
deep snow man comes closer to God. This is the solitude of all 
time. Here man has left behind the noise and whir of life. He walks 
as if he were the first arrival. He finds the inner harmony that comes 
from communion with the heavens. He can draw strength from the 
austere, majestic beauty around him. 

This was the beginning of winter in the Wallowas. Three feet of 
snow lay at my cabin. Soon the canyon would be buried under 6 
or 8 or 10 feet. 


People in the valley below would wake up one morning and find that 
spring had arrived in a rush. Not so in the high mountains. There 
spring advances slowly. A few robins and blackbirds return. Fence 
posts gradually reappear. Occasional patches of bare ground emerge. 
The Lostine River cuts an ever-widening swath between its snow 
banks, as the gentle warmth of a chinook melts them. There will be 
the creaking and groaning of ice underfoot. Then at night it will 
freeze hard. The next day the slow grinding process will begin again. 
The hold of winter on the mountains is not broken in one swift 
stroke. As Pat Kane once said, "Spring is born slowly and laboriously 
at Goose Prairie." But when the western tanager appears, the labor 
is about over. 

I choose snowshoes for cross-country travel, partly for ease of travel. 
Snowshoes, unlike skis, require no special mastery. One walks nat 
urally, with an easy shuffle. Once as a novice I was out with Roy 
Schaeffer. We had not gone far when my ankles began to ache. He 
saw that I was lifting the toe of the snowshoe up with each step 
instead of pushing it forward through the snow in a natural shuffle. 
That correction eased the ache, and we settled to a steady pace for 
hours on end. 

Snowshoes are easier than skis for climbing. I prefer them for the 
changeable conditions one gets in long travel except when the 
snow is wet and mushy, for then a man can pick up ten or twenty 
pounds of it with each step and exhaust himself in a few hours. That 
is when he should hole up and wait for colder weather. 

The best snowshoer I knew was Clarence Truitt of Yakima. 
Clarence traveled the Cascades in summer and winter. For years he 
headed a Scout troop and introduced scores of boys to the woods. 
His hikes have probably been unequaled for distance and daring. 
"You d never know he was human the way he could walk/ Jack 
Nelson once told me. 

Clarence had snowshoed 50 miles in one day in the Cascades. 
One winter night word came to Yakima that someone at Bumping 
Lake was ill. Clarence got medicine, rode to Cliffdell below Amer 
ican River, then took to snowshoes. It is 24 miles from Cliffdell 


to Bumping Lake; he made the round trip in i6j4 hours. Yet travel 
on either snowshoes or skis can be painfully slow. One day Jack 
Nelson in wet snow made only two miles from daylight to dark. 

Elon, Cragg Gilbert, and I had a comparable experience in the 
Cascades early in 1949. We were headed for Truitt s cabin on Gold 
Hill, a few miles off the Chinook Pass road and five or six miles below 
the summit on the east side of the Cascades. The open slopes of 
Crown Point, Gold Hill, and Crystal Mountain are rich with the 
low-bush huckleberry in the summer. There, too, the western black 
currant and western thimbleberry flourish. In the winter this basin 
provides as good skiing as one can find anywhere in the Cascades. 

The road is usually open to Morse Creek, but on this day it was 
open only to Lodgepole, about two miles below Morse Creek. We 
had over four miles to go. There was 14 inches of fresh snow, and 
it was snowing at the rate of an inch an hour as we left Lodge- 
pole on skis. The snow was a bit on the wet side; breaking trail was 
therefore not easy. It took us two hours to go the two miles to 
Morse Creek, even with Cragg, an expert, in the lead. 

The trees were loaded. This was not a light skiff of snow; this snow 
was heavy. The branches of the pine and fir were so weighted they 
hugged the trunks of the trees, the boughs drooping like wet, folded 
wings. Only the tamarack, which is deciduous, stood naked and bare. 

We were out seven hours and the only sign of life we saw was a 
pine squirrel. He came down a tree and crossed the trail ahead of 
us. On each hop he would almost disappear. He would jump out of 
one snow hole and land in another. In that strenuous way he made 
a snail s pace across our path. 

There was the deep sleepy quiet of the woods in winter, broken 
only by the shu-e-e-e-e, shu-e-e-e-e, shu-e-e-e-e of the skis gliding 
through the snow. 

At Morse Creek we turned north, left the highway, clambered up 
a snowbank, and entered the forest. We were in about 12 feet of 
snow, walking above the blazes on the trees that marked the summer 
trail. Stands of tightly clustered jack pine looked like low thickets. 
Tall whitebark pine had shrunk to the size of willow and aspen, and 
we walked as giants with our heads close to the tops. Occasionally 


I could look over the top of a pine as if it were a bush. It was as if 
we were in a snow field of chaparral. 

It was almost dark when we entered the woods at Morse Creek. 
The snow turned to sleet and then, in turn, to a cold driving rain. 
The skis of the man out in front sank in about 18 inches, which 
made breaking trail a punishing task like walking in deep sticky 
mud. It took us two hours to go 200 yards, and we were soaked 
through without and within, from the rain and the perspiration 
caused by our efforts. 

At eight o clock it was still raining, and we had two more miles 
to go. We stopped for a consultation. At our present rate it would 
take us most of the night. We doubted whether we had the energy 
to go ahead, yet we were three hours from shelter if we turned back. 

I remembered Roy s admonition to get under the snow at night. 
One way is to dig a tunnel into the side of a snowbank, but that 
would not do tonight because we were wet. We needed a fire. I 
looked for a snag, recalling how Roy built a fire near one and kept 
warm in a snow hole. Then I realized that we had neither shovel 
nor ax. We needed an ax to cut wood; we needed a shovel to dig 
a hole so that we could follow the fire as it melted its way down. 
We had taken neither, for Truitt had both at his cabin and we 
assumed snow conditions would enable us to get there quickly. 

I turned to look at the path we had broken. In spite of the snow 
the woods were so dark I could hardly see our trail even at my feet. 
There was no invitation from any source no cabin, no cave, no 
hollow trunk, no fallen log. Only mute trees were in view, dead stubs 
of trees buried in snow. I took off my skis. The snow was so thick, 
soft, and wet that without skis I went in up to my hips on each 
step. In that way I would not be able to make 200 yards all night 
long. I would fall in the snow and freeze to death. After floundering 
a few minutes and exhausting myself I put my skis back on. 

An eerie feeling came over me. On every side was danger. I was at 
last facing the implacable enemies of man, cold and starvation. They 
pressed in. The trees were ghostly in the misty darkness, their cold 
boughs stiff fingers of the dead. They formed grotesque figures in the 
gloom, twisted as with anguish and suffering. They were, indeed, 


emigrants overtaken by winter and frozen to death. The cold and 

starvation that overcame them reached out to touch us. 

I indulged this fantasy as I stood ready to begin the trek back. 
When I started up, one ski stuck in the snow, the other went for 
ward, and down I fell. Once down I realized what welcome relief a 
sleep in snow could be to an exhausted man. The snow had surpris 
ing warmth. It extended an invitation to sleep, attractive, but the 
most dangerous one that the woods offer. 

It took us almost an hour to return to the road and another two 
hours to return to Lodgepole. We met Truitt and his party coming 
in on skis. But the heavy snow was too much even for the skiing ex 
perts. Each pole picked up a few pounds of snow. The snow balled up 
on the skis. We floundered for three hours on our return. We got back 
to our starting point at 11 o clock at night. We had taken 7 hours 
to go 4 miles and we were still without shelter. And all this because 
we had violated one of the first principles Roy had drilled into me: 
never go into the woods in winter without shovel and ax. There 
were snags which we could have used to build a fire if we had had 
an ax. We could have had the warm comfort of a snow hole if we 
had had a shovel. 

I did not know until weeks later how wise we were in turning 
back that night. Disaster had laid in wait for us. The 14 inches of 
new snow had fallen on old snow. When the new snow on steep 
slopes became wet it slid on the icy surface that underlay it and 
roared down the mountainsides in great avalanches. That night three 
such avalanches swept the Morse Creek trail that led to Truitfs 
cabin. Each tossed pine and fir trees before it as if they were matches. 
One missed the cabin by only 100 yards. It started 2000 feet up on 
the slopes of Crown Point, swept the mountain clean of trees, and 
spewed thousands of tons of rocks, trees, and snow into the valley. 
Its swath was 200 yards wide, and the snow it carried was 50 to 60 
feet deep. 

There were eight feet of snow at Goose Prairie when Elon and I 
visited it in the winter of 1948. We arrived after dark. Pat Kane, 
Kay Kershaw, Jack and Kitty Nelson were at Double K. They kept 
the second-floor lights on or we would never have seen the ranch- 


house, for the snow was piled high above the first-floor windows. 
We went in via a ditch through the snow eight feet deep. After 
dinner we sat by a roaring fire and talked far into the night. 

It was raining when we arrived, and the eaves dripped all night; 
but in the morning it was clear. Old Scab, Buffalo, Baldy, and Nelson 
Peaks stood clear. Fields of snow lay in the ravines along their sides, 
and tongues of mist licked at them. But the mist would soon dissolve 
in a clear blue sky. 

The snow at Goose Prairie had packed down in the rain. There 
were miniature mounds and depressions in its surface from the wind 
and rain. Only the gables of the cabins at Goose Prairie were visible, 
for the snow was up to the eaves. Jack Nelson, Elon, and I made 
a tour of Goose Prairie on snowshoes. It was hard going, for at each 
step we broke through the light crust. 

Under the trees were long dark swaths that looked as though 
someone had scattered dark ashes through the woods. I asked Jack 
about them. "Springtails or snow fleas," he said. "They come in 
millions after a snowstorm. They re not visible on the flat surface 
of the snow, but they blacken the bottom and edges of a deer track 
or ski trail." I asked if birds ate them. "They love them/ he re 
plied. "Especially the chickadees and rosy finches/ 

We inspected the cabins that decorate Goose Prairie, those of 
the Boy Scouts Camp Fife and others, perhaps a dozen in all. Some 
of the cabins ran east and west. Jack pointed out why that was dan 
gerous in a country of deep snow. 

"In the winter the sun is low in the south," said Jack. "So it melts 
only the snow on the roof with the southern exposure. The roof 
with the northern exposure gets no sun. When that happens one 
roof may be clear and the other have 8 feet of snow on it. That 
means that tons and tons of snow are all on one side of the cabin. 
That gives the structure a tremendous thrust." He showed us what 
he meant. Two cabins had collapsed because of it, and two others 
had buckled. "Always run a cabin north and south. Then the sun 
melts the snow evenly on both sides." 

My mind went back to our cabin in the Wallowas built by Roy 
Schaeffer. I realized how wisely Roy had planned, for it too ran 


north and south, as do all the cabins Roy has ever built in the hills. 

On our way up to American River, Elon and I had seen many 
deer. At the junction of the Tieton and Naches we had seen 50 or 
more elk. Elk do not ordinarily get down that low, for they do not 
migrate as far as the deer. But this winter they were down on the 
open ranges, either because of the severe winter or because of the feed 
furnished them or both. Some elk, however, were still in the moun 
tains. A herd of 14 had left the ridges and high basins in the 
fall and descended to Goose Prairie, which lies about 3600 feet. 
They were still there, 3 bulls and 11 cows. They had pawed the 
snow for grass until it got too deep. There was some hay fed them 
at Goose Prairie. But for the most part their diet had been the bark 
of willow and alder and three mosslike lichens that hung like beards 
from the boughs of pine and fir trees. 

There was a bright yellow lichen (Litharia vulpina), often called 
wolfsbane letharia. It is reported to have been used in the Old World, 
mixed with other substances, to poison wolves. Hence its name 
vulpina. It was an important dyeplant used both by aboriginal and 
civilized people prior to the introduction of aniline dyes. Another 
of the lichens looked like blackish hair. It is Alectoria fremonitii, 
an indigenous lichen of the Western states which was discovered by 
General John C. Fremont. And a third lichen that the elk were eating 
was a seagreen hairlike plant called Alectoria sarmentosa, a creeping 
species of wide distribution. 

Lichens are one of the earliest forms of life. These species on 
which the Goose Prairie elk were feeding were members of a family 
that have been associated with man throughout his long vicissitudes. 
Llano has reported they were an ancient source of medicine and 
poisons; they have been used in brewing, distilling, tanning, and 
dyeing, and have been utilized as raw materials in the perfume and 
cosmetic industries. The Northwest Indians used at least one species 
(Alectoria /ubata) for food. And Llano reports that The biblical 
manna of the Israelites appears to have been Lecanora esculenta 
which is still eaten by desert tribes, being mixed with meal to one- 
third of its weight" (2, Economic Botany 15). This lichen, according 
to Llano, grows in the mountains and is "blown loose into the low- 


lands where the thalli pile up in small hummocks in the valley/ 
And in the subarctic regions certain species of lichens are a main part 
of the diet of reindeer and cattle. But the three mosslike lichens 
of Goose Prairie seemed to me meager food for elk. 

"They haven t had a square meal since November first/ 7 said 
Jack. And they looked it, for they were gaunt and thin. "The danger 
now is the coyote/ he added. 

"Anything else to bother them here in the winter?" I asked. 

"Lynx, bobcat, and bush wolves all winter at Goose Prairie and 
Bumping Lake. Not many, however. Worst of all is the coyote." 

We walked down to Bumping River, now only a trickle. A water 
ouzel was diving into a pool for food. Jack pointed across the river 
to a thick stand of willows. "When we get a couple of warm days 
in February or March the buds of the willows will come out. Same 
is true of alder and cottonwood. Then the elk will go for them and 
strip these thickets clean. Elk will walk away from hay for willow 

The elk were up to their shoulders in snow. They ran single file 
in trails they had made. They knew the starvation that the moun 
tains offer in the winter. Only the lichens had pulled them through. 

In the winter the mountains offer only remnants of their hospitality. 
Death stalks man and game when the deep snow comes. The lifeline 
is as flimsy as the lichens on the evergreens at Goose Prairie or the 
cambium layer under the bark of the bull pine that the Indians 
scraped off with a piece of deer bone and ate raw. 

There are not many ways of building a campfire in deep snow, 
for the fire disappears as the snow melts and man is left on top to 
freeze. Clarence Truitt, on his early snowshoe trips in the Cascades, 
would often cut green trees and make a platform perhaps six feet 
square. On this he would build a small fire. In that way he did not 
lose his fire and end up with only a hole in the snow steaming with 
smoke. But Roy Schaeffer s snow hole is better. 

Crystal Mountain is about four miles from Truitt s cabin at Gold 
Hill. It lies 7500 feet high, and is one of the most commanding 
views in the Cascades. There is a narrow backbone of mountain 


that drops away to the south a mile or more. Steep slopes lie on 
either side, and when the snow is right they offer exciting ski runs. 
In the distance Mount Hood punctures the sky with its sharp point. 
Then corne Adams, St. Helens, the Goat Rocks, and Mount Aix. 
These familiar friends become strangers when a deep snow covers 
them and the intervening ridges, for the snow wipes out many of the 
familiar landmarks. 

To the north and east are ridges that look like waves of broken 
glacier ice running to the horizon. Mount Stuart looms on the right. 
To the west is Rainier, less than ten miles away so close it seems that 
one can touch it. The frozen ribbon of White River, running off 
Rainier, lies immediately below. Little Takhoma and Steamboat 
Prow mountains set on the side of Rainier rise in front. The sheer 
rock of one of Rainier s most formidable obstacles, Willis Wall, is 
dark and forbidding against its snowy background. Towering over the 
whole scene is the massive mountain. Emmons Glacier, the largest on 
Rainier, is visible its whole length from the summit all the way down 
to White River. Rainier, deep in snow, is cold, austere, incredibly 

One day in March Elon and I were headed for Crystal Moun 
tain. We had left the car at Morse Creek and walked the two miles 
to Truitt s cabin, carrying food and supplies. We also bore our 
snowshoes and skis, for the snow was crusted enough for us to walk 
on it with ease. The day was overcast, with a feel of snow. There 
was little sign of life in the woods, nothing except a big bald eagle 
with a two-foot wingspread that soared along the treetops and 
lighted at a safe distance on an old snag, watching us until we were 
out of sight. 

There were nine feet of snow on the level at Gold Hill. It had 
blown in drifts over the cabin, leaving only a suggestion of a mound 
with a stovepipe sticking out. By the time we reached the cabin 
the temperature had risen to 41 degrees and there was a slight 
dripping from the eaves. Near the cabin scatterings of alder poked 
through the snow. A few warm days had stirred them to life and 
formed light-green buds at their extremities. 

Camp robbers, blue jays, and another small dark-tufted jay that 


I did not identify were active about the cabin, searching for bits of 
food. The Cleaver, a ridge that bounds Morse Creek on the south 
west, was blotted out. On the other side the clouds hung low over 
Gold Hill and Crown Point. But in spite of the haze I could see the 
line of fracture where whole snow fields had slipped and roared off 
their slopes. 

We stayed at Gold Hill that night. By dusk the temperature had 
fallen to the twenties and it was snowing. It snowed all night. It 
was still snowing when we left for Crystal Mountain in the morning. 
Cragg Gilbert and Bob Strausz joined us. They were on skis; Elon 
and I wore snowshoes. Each man carried a pack; mine was a trapper 
Nelson, the others were modified Norwegians. We had a shovel 
and an ax, light tarps, and sleeping bags, a one-burner gasoline stove, 
cooking utensils (two pots and a frying pan), dishes, and food. 

There were eight or ten inches of fresh powder snow that the 
wind could pick up as easily as it could dust. The first part of the trip 
was nearly noiseless, except for the crunch, crunch, crunch, of the 
snowshoes. The snow-bound valley was deathly still. Snow cut 
the visibility to a few hundred yards. The basalt cliffs and domes that 
decorate the Cleaver were hidden. There were two huge mounds on 
our left that marked old miners cabins, now buried in snow. This 
valley is rich in prospector s lore. Here many men, including Tom 
Fife, had sought gold. 

The valley abounds in Alaska yellow cedar (Alaska cypress) with its 
long delicate leaves. This morning they were snow-dusted, creating 
a wondrous filigree effect. Then came the wind, gentle at first and 
finally of blizzard proportions. It whipped the snow into clouds 
and shook showers from the trees. 

It was early afternoon when we came to the head of the Morse 
Creek basin. Directly above us on the northwest was Crystal Pass; 
on the southwest was Sourdough Pass, a narrow defile in a knife- 
edge of basalt. They are low points in the rim of the bowl where 
Morse Creek rises. We were about 500 feet under Crystal Pass. The 
growing wind caused us to wonder if it would be wiser to camp 
below the pass than above it. Cragg and Bob dropped their packs 
and reconnoitered. They soon came racing down from Crystal Pass, 


the light snow whirling in clouds from their skis, to report that a 
blinding blizzard was raging above. We decided to make camp and 
get under the snow. 

We found a snag 12 inches in diameter on the edge of a clump 
of alpine fir. The snow was at least 15 feet deep. The snag looked 
like the chimney of an old shack. When we chopped off its top, we 
had a log about 25 or 30 feet long. The outside wood was wet from 
snow and rain, but when we split out the core the wood was dry. 
The snag had collected none of the moisture of the ground in its 
long decay. We started a fire with small shavings from the core, 
using what are known as fire flames a petroleum by-product made 
by an oil company. They look like small flat cakes of paraffin or 
beeswax. They burn for about ten minutes, and are quite an asset 
in wet or wintry weather. 

We soon had a good fire burning not far from the trunk of the 
snag. As it burned the snow melted, and we followed the fire down 
by shoveling away the snow. As we shoveled, we kept our wood supply 
with us, since we followed the snag down. Our snow hole was some 
six feet square. The fire melted about a foot of snow an hour. By the 
time we went to bed and let the fire go out, we were eight feet down 
in the snow. 

Cooking under such circumstances has special problems. The fire 
is constantly sinking into the snow, causing pots and pans to tip 
and food to spill. Even a gasoline stove set in snow is unstable. 
We lost two pans of water because the heat of the stove melted 
the snow under it, causing it to tip. Melting snow for water 
presents several difficulties. If one fills a pan with snow and puts it 
over the fire, he may ruin the pan, for the first water melted is ab 
sorbed by the snow, leaving the bottom of the pan dry. Moreover, 
the snow, if it is dry, may have as little as five per cent water in it. 
That was about the content the night we camped below Crystal 
Pass. Getting enough water for cooking was time-consuming. This 
was impressed on me because I was thirsty. We had not taken along 
cans of grapefruit juice, apple juice, or other thirst-quenching liquids; 
our packs were heavy, so we left them behind. That was a mistake. 
One perspires heavily on a cross-country snowshoe trip. There usually 


are no streams where one can quench his thirst. On this March trip 
we finally resorted to licking snow from the branches of the trees. 
But snow does not quench thirst, and the melting seemed inter 
minably long. 

At last we had soup, made from dried vegetables and meat. We 
cooked dried beef and made a gravy of flour and dried milk. We made 
mashed potatoes of dried potatoes. We had bread and butter and 
cups of hot chocolate. It was a wonderful meal for the snow hole. 
We ate it in a snowstorm, driven by a bitter cold wind. We huddled 
close to the fire, and took turns shoveling out the pit. 

Cragg and Bob slept in a two-man tent they pitched in a near-by 
grove. Elon and I dug an alcove into one wall of the snow hole. Here 
we placed fir boughs. We put a nylon tarp over the boughs and our 
sleeping bags on the tarp. Pulling the tarp over us, we lay in oui 
alcove as bears would in a hole. About 10 o clock we let the fire die. 
Though it stormed all night, we were warm and comfortable. 

One has to lie deep in the snow to learn how warm and protective 
it is. A den in the snow confines the body heat like a blanket or 
overcoat. It is a snug place, no matter how the wind may howl. One 
who holes up in the snow understands better the mysteries of woods 
in the winter. He knows why in severe weather grouse squirm their 
way under soft snow and lie quiet. He understands why deer bury 
themselves in drifts, lying a half-day or more with just their heads 
sticking out. He learns something of the comfort of the bear in 

As I lay in the snow hole I remembered the evening before in 
Truitt s cabin. We had to go down icy steps 9 feet to enter it. 
Once inside I had an experience difficult to describe. I felt closer 
perhaps than ever before to my friends. We were buried deep in 
the snow together, sharing the threat of the blizzard. Sleeping in the 
snow hole was a comparable experience. Lying there in the alcove 
I felt a new relationship to the wilderness an affinity even closer 
than when one lies on the shore of a mountain lake in August or 
in the heather of a high basin, or on a bed among Indian paintbrush 
and cinquefoil in a mountain meadow. It was a closer tie than is 


given by the night music of the treetops under the shoulder of a 
snow-capped range. 

It came to me why this is true. When man holes up in the snow, 
he returns to earth in a subtle way. He does not return in the manner 
of a man or a tree or a bird who dies, for then the body is reclaimed by 
mold and transformed into the dust from which it came. In a deep 
hollow of the snow, man returns to the womb of the earth to live. 
Lying in the warm darkness he captures a fleeting sense of the 
security of that part of his life that existed before his own conscious 
ness. He escapes the reality of the world and lowers the tempo of 
his own life. He lies relaxed and peaceful, safe in a warm embrace. 
Death and danger may stalk abroad, but in his retreat there is no 

We were up by seven in the morning. The storm was over. The 
clouds had risen so that we could see Crystal Pass and Sourdough 
Pass above us. On the crest of the ridges were cornices of snow 20 
to 40 feet high, formed by the whipping of the wind. Towering over 
Sourdough Pass was Sourdough Peak, a jagged blade of rock that 
commands the ridge. 

"How did Sourdough Pass get its name?" I once asked Charles 
Hussey who in the winter often secludes himself at Gold Hill. 

A long time ago," he said, "a pack train of miners was coming 
over the pass headed for Gold Hill. A bear frightened the horses. One 
pack horse started to bolt and the wife of one of the miners shouted, 
Save the sourdough/ " 

The clouds hung low over Morse Creek that morning, but we 
were 6000 feet high and above them. From our altitude they looked 
like low-hanging fog forming an opaque ceiling over the valley. Far 
to the southeast was the American Ridge, its hogback sharp against 
a blue-gray sky, its ledges resplendent with powder snow. 

Now the rocky crags of the Cleaver that bounds the Morse Creek 
basin on the south were in full view. There mountain goats range the 
year around. That ridge is mounted with basalt formations knife- 
like peaks, rounded domes, fluted spires. They often have at their 
bases cliffs of 200, 300, 500 feet. This morning the peaks and cliffs 


were coated with snow that seemed to have been driven into the 
rocks themselves. Only traces of dark basalt could be seen. 

Suddenly an avalanche of snow fell from one of the cliffs of the 
Cleaver a half-mile or so across the basin. It was a white cascade 400 
feet high and 50 yards wide. It looked like the white water of a 
Niagara, even to the mist formed by the finely powdered snow. It 
was like Niagara except that it was gone in ten seconds. The roar of 
its passing had what John Muir once described as the "low massy 
thunder tones of snow avalanches." Again and again it happened: 
cascades of snow tumbled from cliff after cliff, laying bare the basalt 
rock and carrying clouds of powdered mist in their wake. Again and 
again the basin was filled with the deep-throated roar of tons of snow 
pounding on rocks. A whole mountain shook itself, spraying the 
valley. Then the basin settled again to the quiet and repose of dead 

We had breakfast of soup, oatmeal with butter and dried milk, 
bacon, bread, and chocolate. As we were washing the dishes, Bob 
pointed to the top of our snag and said, "Some summer a boy will 
be riding by this place and look up and see this snag. Hell turn to 
his father and say, "Dad, how did that tree over there get chopped 
off 15 feet above the ground? And the old man will shake his head 
and say, Don t know, son/ " 

Elon chuckled. "They will never hear of Operation Snow Hole 
or dream there was such a thing." 

We put on our snowshoes and skis and shouldered our packs. 
We were about to start along the mountainside when Cragg spoke 
up: "Too bad more people don t know about Operation Snow Hole. 
People in the valley should send their children back in here summer 
and winter. The young folks should learn how to live dangerously, 
how to survive in the wilderness on their own. Then they d be self- 
reliant and independent. People coddle their children, make them 
afraid. They forget that the wilderness holds the secrets of survival." 

As we left the snow hole and leaned forward under our packs, I 
looked up at Sourdough Peak. It was being blotted out. A new storm 
was moving in from the west. The basin would soon be lashed by a 
biting wind that drove powder snow before it. 

Chapter XXI Klicfeitot 

ELON, Doug, and I had always planned to climb Mount Adams, but 
somehow we never got around to it when we were boys. There was 
a group of alpine specialists in the valley, but we were not part of it. 
One of the leaders was Eton s older brother, Curtiss. At an early 
age he, like Clarence Truitt, was testing his heart and lungs against 
the highest peaks. When we finally climbed Mount Adams (12,307 
feet), in August, 1945, Curtiss led the way. He had climbed it first 
as a boy, and this was his twelfth ascent. He had also scaled Mount 
Rainier (14,408 feet) seven times. He acquired at an early age an 
insatiable appetite for the challenging peaks. He climbed all the 
major ones from Washington to California Whitney (14,496 feet) 
once, Shasta (14,162 feet) twice, Lassen (10,496 feet) once, Hood 
(11,245 f eet ) ^ ve times, St. Helens (9671 feet) five times, Goat Rocks 
(8201 feet) seven times, Stuart (9470 feet) fifteen times, . Glacier 
Peak (10,436 feet) twice, Shuksan (9038 feet) once, and Baker 
(10,750 feet) twice. He climbed most of the minor pinnacles within 
striking distance of Yakima, including Kloochman, Fifes, and 

Curtiss probably knew the Cascades as intimately as any other man 
in history, white or Indian. For 27 years he had a scout troop in 
Yakima sponsored by the Congregational Church. He introduced 
about 350 boys to the woods, helping them to discover the mysteries 
of the mountains. When he died the other day from a heart attack, 
it seemed as though he had expended himself in a brief 54 years so 
that others might have a fuller life. 

He could have spent his week ends in comfort and ease before 
the fire or at a bridge table in a club, but he chose a harder life. He 
took every opportunity to lead his troop to the hills. He averaged 30 
overnight hikes a year. These trips circled the rim of Yakima Valley, 



explored all sides of Adams and Rainier, touched on most of the high 
lakes of the Cascades, tapped the wondrous Goat Rocks region, and 
followed the ridge of the Cascades from the Columbia on the south 
to Cady Pass on the north. 

He slept on the ground with his scouts. He taught them to build a 
fire in a wet forest, to chop wood without risk of injury to their 
feet. He taught them to be unafraid in the dark woods, to go through 
a forest by the stars and the ridge lines of the mountains. He taught 
the art of climbing the synchronizing of lungs and legs; he showed 
how to assault cliffs and crags. He taught the citizenship of the 
mountains: clean camps, sanitation, protection of the woods against 
fire, service to the other chap and consideration of his wants and 
comforts. The mountains were his training camp for youth. 

Doug had been in China for almost 20 years prior to 1941. He had 
a medical mission at Hofei supported by the Christian Church of 
Yakima and by a host of his other friends. He came out on the last 
boat that left Japan for this country prior to Pearl Harbor. For 
the next four years he practiced medicine in Yakima. He visited 
Washington, D.C. in May, 1945. We were sitting on my porch as 
the sun was setting over the hills of Maryland. Talk turned to the 
Cascades and Mount Adams. 

"I suppose you re too soft to climb Mount Adams now," said 
Doug with a twinkle in his eye. I poked his waistline. "You re the 
last man who should talk about anybody being soft." Out of an 
evening of banter came a bargain: We made a date to climb Mount 
Adams that summer. 

Doug picked the first week end after V-J Day. It was the finest 
week end of the summer, with northwest winds and clear skies. We 
were to meet at the Maryhill ferry. The banks of the Columbia at 
Maryhill are barren. Only an occasional willow along the water s 
edge breaks the immense monotony. On both sides of the river the 
hills rise abruptly 1000 feet or more, revealing thick layers of lava 
rock that the Columbia has uncovered in its drive to the sea. Apart 
from irrigated places, there is nothing but desert life. A Peattie 
would recognize in these sagebrush plains and canyons, even in 


August, the western bee-plant and the golden blazing star. But the 
bloom of the desert has gone, and there are only sterile remnants of 
the life that awakens at the touch of spring. There is sage and cheat- 
grass and some bunchgrass. 

It is hot in the sun. The heat of this vast inland empire is dry; it 
can feel like the blast from a furnace. Of this stretch of country Billy 
McGuffie once said, "Thae braes are sae lanesome i the simmer that 
gin a rabbit gaed through them, he wud hae tae tak his piece wi him/ 
But the shade of a locust is refreshing in daytime, and the nights are 

This is part of the inland area that was covered by sequoias and 
evergreens some 20 million years ago. Then the clouds of the Pacific 
dropped their water here and made this land rich and verdant. But 
the earth buckled and up came the Cascades, shutting out the rain 
clouds. Gradually desert life took hold; and there it will remain until 
the Cascades are worn away by wind and frost and rain, and wet 
ocean winds once more lick this plateau. 

This stretch of the Columbia Lewis and Clark found most dreary. 
There are fish in the river, but no game for miles around. Here they 
saw the natives using "straw, small willows and southern wood" 
(sagebrush) for fuel. A cold, raw wind pours down the canyon in 
winter. That wind turns in the summer, whips across the barren 
benches on top of the ridges that form the canyon, and picks the 
dust from fallow wheat land to send it whirling to the east. 

Our party met at noon on the Washington side of the Maryhill 
ferry. We sat in the shade of a locust by an abandoned house and 
ate lunch. We were gay with expectations. In an hour we were on 
our way. We went downriver by car to White Salmon. Here we left 
the semiarid desert behind us, for it is near White Salmon that the 
eastern slopes begin to catch the drippings from clouds over the 
Cascades and the rich timber belt begins its reach toward the sea. 

At White Salmon we turned north to the Trout Lake guard station 
of the Forest Service, where we stopped to get a campfire permit. 
Then we continued north on the Forest Service road to Morrison 
Creek and Cold Springs, which lay about 6000 feet high on the 
southern slopes of Adams. The road goes a mile or two beyond Cold 


Springs, but we stopped there because it was the last campground 
with water. Cold Springs has a shelter, a small building with three 
walls and a roof. We built a fire near the open end and soon had 
supper ready. We ate extra portions, for this would be our last good 
meal until we came down the mountain the next evening. 

There was excitement in the air, the kind that comes on the eve 
ning of a schoolboy s debate, a lawyer s argument before court, or 
some other adventure. There was talk of crampons, alpenstocks, ice 
axes, snow glasses, glaciers, snow fields, and mountain peaks up and 
down the Cascades. We talked of food to eat before and during 
a climb and of food not to eat. Doug ran a first-aid station, examin 
ing feet, doctoring blisters, applying bandages. We did not sit 
around the campfire long after supper. We had to be up by 2 A.M. 
and start climbing by 3 or 3:30 in order to get over the snow fields 
before the snow got soft and mushy. 

We should have slept in comfort, but with darkness came a cold 
wind. Cold Springs is on a low shoulder of Adams and not far from 
snow fields. The wind whipped around the edges of our sleeping 
bags. I slept cold and fitfully, and was wide awake when Curtiss 
roused the camp at 2 A.M. 

Breakfast was frugal. We huddled shivering around a small fire, 
waiting for water to boil. Tea, cocoa, soup, crackers, and raisins were 
the breakfast Curtiss had ordered. It was wise to eat light before a 
climb; then there was less chance of cramps or altitude sickness. 

By 3 A.M. we were on our way. Each of us carried chocolate and 
raisins in a knapsack. Some carried canteens for water; others carried 
cans of apple juice. The route was northwest on a Forest Service 
road for a mile or so. The morning star hung against a low shoulder 
of Mount Adams on our right, as bright and brilliant as any gasoline 
lamp. It hung so low that it might have been a bright light in a 
cabin window. It promised a clear morning for the climb and a blue 
sky at the top. 

Curtiss was ahead with a flashlight. By 3:30 we struck a trail that 
followed a ravine. There was a creek at which we filled canteens. We 
began to gain altitude steadily. It was a rocky, sandy trail that led 


into an ancient lava field where benches of the black lava stood 
solid and unbroken. By 5 o clock we could see the first snow field 
ahead. We were now at 7000 feet. The ascent became steeper, and 
we stopped more frequently for breath. The professional climbers 
and some of the younger members of our group began to outstrip us: 
Doug Corpron, Jr. and Ruth Corpron, Curtiss, Cragg, Mark, and 
Carol Anne Gilbert. They soon left us far behind, taking five hours 
to our eight for the climb. 

Elon, Doug, my son Bill, and I stopped at the edge of the first 
snow field to study the course. It was 5:30 A.M. and bitter cold, with 
the wind a gale. The sun was rising, but we could not see it. The 
snow field we were on was at the bottom of a big bowl. To the east 
was South Butte, a rugged rampart of Adams that cut off the sun 
rise. South Butte, a small, disintegrated peak, is a parasitic cone that 
once was an active volcano. 

Ahead was the broad sweep of the mountain. It seemed like a 
stranger as I first saw it that morning, because the familiar contours 
of Adams were gone. The last full view had been in the evening of 
the previous day as we neared camp. Then it towered over us, bump 
ing the sky. Adams Glacier glistened. The black lava rock had a deep 
bluish tinge. That was the same view, though a more intimate one, 
that I had enjoyed many times from the Oregon side of the Columbia. 
Now all was new. Up ahead of us was a snow field broken occasionally 
by ribs of dark lava rock. It looked like a giant ski run. The high- 
humped effect of the mountain was gone, for the only top in view 
was the false top. 

There are several routes up Adams. One approaches from the 
east, climbs Battlement Ridge and goes over the Castle. This is the 
most difficult and originally was deemed impossible. C. E. Rusk of 
Yakima, who worked in the land office, headed the group that first 
climbed the east side. That was in 1921. Clarence Truitt and Clarence 
Starcher were in the party. Rusk has told the story in his book, Tales 
of a Western Mountaineer. Rusk loved Mount Adams. He explored 
all its sides, and named most of its glaciers and peaks. When he 
climbed the east side he went up Rusk Glacier to the bergschrund, 


where the precipices are 2000 feet high and where the Klickitat 
Waterfall drops 1000 feet. The Castle is an immense cathedral rock 
rising 1500 feet out of the eastern slope. Rusk s ashes rest there in a 
bronze urn which Clarence Truitt and Clarence Starcher carried up 
the mountain in 1932. 

The north-side route, by way of Killen Creek, is hard to get at and 
little used. But it is perhaps the easiest, for the slope is unbroken 
and climbing time is from three to six hours. A more difficult route 
comes up from the west, starting at Trout Lake and crossing Adams 
Glacier. The Mazama route is the southeast climb from Bird Creek 
Meadows, going up Mazama Glacier to the point where it joins the 
trail we took. 

Our route led up the south side. Next to the north-side climb it is 
the easiest, for it has only snow fields, no glaciers. But it is longer, 
with one great ledge after another to climb over. In some years there 
is no snow to cross. Then horses could be taken to the top. 

We bore right as we crossed the first snow field, hard as ice. Some 
wore crampons, but hobnails were enough since the slope was gentle. 
A rib of lava separated the first snow field from the second. As we 
reached the second, the sun was almost over the mountain s ridge 
on our right. The wind picked up and blew so hard we had to lean 
into it. We discovered that we had dressed too lightly. We had not 
worn woolen underwear, gloves, or mittens. We wore hats instead 
of caps, and we had no ear muffs. We were soon chilled to the bone. 
My face burned in the cold wind, and my fingers were numb. 

Half-way across the second snow field the sun touched us, but it 
brought no warmth. To make matters worse, the wind whipped off 
my hat. It rolled on its brim edge down a snow field that stretched 
a mile or so off to the east, bouncing crazily as it hit an occasional 
rock and then continuing its mad way. It rolled on and on until I 
thought I saw it disappear in the lava field on the far side. I marked 
the spot, planning to retrieve the hat on our descent. The loss was 
costly, for the wind did not abate and my ears and face became numb. 

We climbed 2000 feet across the two snow fields. Our course had 
been diagonal to the east. At 9000 feet we reached the saddle. It is 
.a plateau in the high shoulder of the mountain. A steep snow field 


runs up from the edge of the saddle to the first or false top of the 
mountain. That snow field is bounded on the east by a hogback of 
lava rock. Some, including Curtiss and his two sons, Cragg and Mark, 
climbed the left side of the snow field. Our group went up the hog 
back formed of huge rocks that had tumbled crazily down the moun 
tain. They often formed spacious rock cairns in which we got the 
only relief from the wind we were to have all day. We followed this 
ridge for about an hour, gaining 1000 feet. 

At the top of this ridge the course bears west. Here the whole 
mountainside is made up of pyroclastics ashes, cinders, pumice, and 
bombs produced by violent explosions from a volcano. It is a loose 
formation, as treacherous to traverse as shale. Some of it is spongy 
in appearance, filled with air holes. Some of the pieces are light, but 
a fraction of the normal weight of lava rock, and will float when first 
put in water. 

We worked our way west along this slope until we came to the 
edge of a tongue of snow that stretched from the top of the ridge, 
some 1000 feet above us, to the first snow field we had crossed. Here 
we stopped for chocolate, raisins, and apple juice. It was 10 o clock 
and we were about 10,500 feet up the mountain. The sun was high. 

Sapphire blue lakes tucked away in remote valleys or ravines were 
the only open spots in the solid green slopes of the Cascades far 
below. To the east was what we took to be Bench Lake. To the south 
were nameless other waters of smaller dimension lakes that as a boy 
I had heard called spirit lakes, haunted by the gods of rain. To the 
southwest was Trout Lake, glittering in the sun under the whipping 
of the wind. To the west was Mount St. Helens with its white, grace 
ful cone. 

In front to the south was Mount Hood, pushing up like the edge 
of a sharp gabled roof. Below us to the left was Little Mount Adams, 
a conical, isolated peak rising from the southeastern slope of Adams. 
Like South Butte, it was a parasitic cone that once had spewed lava 
and pumice. I had seen it first as the sun rose. Far above it, near the 
upper reaches of Klickitat Glacier, sulfur fumes were rising from 


crevasses like vapors from some caldron boiling in the vitals of the 

They were perhaps one of the reasons why the Indians never went 
so high on the mountain as the glaciers. There doubtless were other 
reasons too: avalanches, blizzards, treacherous footing, absence of 
game, and the Tomanowas. These were the spirits and this was 
their kingdom, a place taboo to man. These spirits were immortal, 
all-powerful. Man was no match for them. He could neither outwit 
nor outrun them. Coyote did both, and in so doing became one of 
man s greatest benefactors; for he brought fire from the mountain 
and gave it to the Indians. 

The procuring of fire (what Kipling called the red flower) from 
the high Cascades is slightly reminiscent of Prometheus, who stole 
fire from Olympus and gave it to mankind. Coyote, too, had to steal 
it, and the gods were angry with him. The fire had been carefully 
guarded. The Tomanowas had placed it in charge of the Skookum 
sisters. Stealing it was not easy, for the bare mountainside made it 
impossible to hide oneself and it was a long way to the valley. Coyote 
knew the Skookums would outrun him, so he planned to establish 
relay stations and pass the fire from animal to animal. 

Coyote made his way to the pits atop the mountain, where the 
Skookums guarded the fire day and night. On the change of the 
guard at dawn, Coyote seized the fire and dashed away. A Skookum 
at once was hot on his trail. She did indeed catch the tip of his tail 
in her hand and made it white even to this day. But Coyote reached 
Wolf and passed the fire to him. And then it was passed to Squirrel, 
to Chipmunk, to Eagle, and finally to Antelope who waited on the 
edge of the plains and who sped with it to safety. 

Aeschylus presents an infinitely more polished and refined version 
of the stealing of fire from the heavens than the Indian lore of the 
Pacific Northwest can provide. But as I watched the boiling sulfurous 
caverns above Little Mount Adams it seemed to me that Coyote 
and Prometheus were akin. Their common exploit provided a link 
between the ancient Greeks and the Pacific Northwest Indians. It 
is of course not strange that two widely separated cultures would 


produce stories so similar as those of Coyote and Prometheus. Vol 
canic mountains have been known throughout the ages, and at times 
were the source of fire for primitive people. Moreover, from the begin 
ning the heavens have delivered fire to the earth through lightning. 
It is natural that man should find supernatural forces at work in the 
skies and in the mountains. Certainly, at one time Mount Adams 
erupted, blowing off its top, belching smoke and pouring hot molten 
rock into the valleys. Lava ledges and light pyroclastics that cover its 
slopes are enduring evidence of an earlier and more violent chapter 
in its life. 

The south hump of Adams, which we were on, was formed by an 
eruption. Lava flowing from a volcano had built this shoulder. The 
same happened on all sides of the mountain through parasitic cones 
still visible: Little Mount Adams, Red Butte, South Butte, and Goat 
Butte. The Columbia lava flows came in the Miocene some 30,000,000 
years ago. Then they were raised and folded with the buckling of the 
earth s crust to form the Cascades. This was in the late Pliocene, 
perhaps five or ten million years ago. Then in Pleistocene or glacial 
time, about two million years ago, came Adams on the upturned 
edges of this lava. The construction of Mount Adams took a long 
while. There were long periods of quiet and glaciation, followed by 
extensions of lava. And so gradually a mountain was built, with fire 
and heat, over a period of more than a million years. The fires cooled; 
the construction was done; the process of erosion set in. But the sulfur 
fumes from the boiling caverns below us proved that Mount Adams 
was yet growling in its bowels. 

The sun had warmed the narrow tongue of snow that lay ahead of 
us. Earlier in the day when it was frozen the crossing would have 
been hazardous. One slip and a man might roll down to huge knuckles 
of lava that dotted the lower edges of the snow field knuckles large 
as pianos, though from our altitude they seemed no bigger than 
walnuts. But now there was no danger, for we sank into snow over 
our ankles. 

A few hundred yards beyond this tongue of snow and to the west, 
is a knob from which the mountain drops a thousand feet or more. 


Here rocks have tumbled from the cliff and rolled 1000 yards or more 
to ice fields. This was part of the crumbling of Adams. The ice of 
these fields is grimy in appearance, as glacier ice usually is. Ugly 
snow seracs and crevasses gave it a wild look, for the seracs were as big 
as a house, and the yawning crevasses were hundreds of feet deep. 

From this cliff s edge we turned north and followed the ridge that 
leads to the false top of Mount Adams. We were now feeling the full 
force of the wind; and it was so cold that, in spite of the exertion, my 
upper legs were as numb as if I had been sitting in a cold exposed 
place for hours. But the going was easy, for the ridge was covered 
with sandy pumice that crunched underfoot. It seemed part of an 
ancient beach that somehow had been raised to the heavens before 
the waves of the ocean could grind the coarse grains to powder. 

Between the false and the real summit is a basin 200 or 300 yards 
across and 100 or 200 feet below the false top. The brief descent was 
as welcome as the noon whistle on a hot day in the brickyards. Then 
came the last 500 feet of the climb. The ascent is abrupt. 

Curtiss and his group had gone to the top without stopping. They 
synchronized their legs and lungs, taking so many breaths to each 
step, going like motorcars in low gear. In earlier days I had been able 
to do the same, but it had been 25 years since I had tried it. Doug 
thought we should take it easy, and we had climbed slowly, resting 
every ten steps or so. In that way we had done all right. 

But the last 500 feet were grueling, as Henry B. Brewer, Methodist 
farmer missionary and the first white man to climb Mt. Adams, 
discovered in 1845. The wind was more powerful, and we were 
facing directly into it. Chitchat and banter were over. This was 
grim. I climbed the last pitch as if it were a never-ending stair 
case inside a tower. This was for me as much an ordeal as the 
last few thousand feet of McKinley (20,300 feet) might be for the 
young professional. I was generally in good condition but I had not 
trained for the climb. I did not have the wiry look that goes well 
with mountaineering. In the worst stretch of the last 500 feet I 
stopped, breathless and exhausted. I wondered if perhaps I had waited 
too long to pass this crucial test. Then the words of Homer came back 
to me, "Be patient now, my soul; thou hast endured still worse than 


this." And so I lifted my leaden feet and slowly came to the top, 
12,307 feet above the sea. 

There is a wooden shack on the top of Adams, built years ago by 
the Forest Service as a lookout. It had been unused for some time. 
Snow had sifted through the cracks and more than half-filled the 
cabin. Not far from the lookout are old test holes that some sulfur 
mining company dug years ago. The mountain is apparently full of 
sulfur; its fumes are noticeable far down the mountain. The summit 
deposits seem rich. Who dug the test holes, what engineering prob 
lems were confronted, how the problems of cost of production and 
marketing were thought to be manageable, I do not know. But pros 
pectors had gone clear to the top of Mount Adams in search for 
riches and there had dug their puny picks into this great giant of the 
Cascades, leaving their scratches. Steam came from a few vents in the 
crater, but more conspicuous was the hydrogen sulfide gas escaping 
through many crevices on the crater s edge. 

At the top the mountain seemed a giant cone whose tip had been 
snipped off by scissors, for the top is almost flat and somewhat cir 
cular like the frustum of a cone. It has been estimated that if the 
sides of the cone were extended they would meet about a thousand 
feet above the flat summit. 

At the summit the wind was a 5o-mile gale. We found some pro 
tection on the lee side of the lookout. Here on the lookout s south 
wall was a register box, left by the Mazamas, a famous club of moun 
taineers. This was August 18, 1945, and 20 people so far had made 
the climb that year. Three had come in from Seattle over the Adams 
Glacier. We added our names to the register as eagerly as one adds 
the name of a new-born child to the family Bible. 

We walked to the eastern edge of the table top. Standing on such 
dizzy points gives some people an urge to plunge into the abyss and 
sacrifice themselves on the jagged pinnacles below. Those people 
should stay out of glacier regions. They would find them more fright- 
eningly inviting than all the skyscrapers of the world. But those who 
like to live dangerously have no such compulsions. They curl their 
toes tighter, and lean forward the better to see the bottom. 


Below was the eerie Klickitat Glacier, tumbling to the east in dis 
array, its seracs scattered down its length like huge misshapen ice 
cubes spilled from a giant s hand. Beyond was the Yakima Indian 
Reservation and the rich Yakima Valley. Not a cloud was in the sky. 
The valley lay in the distance against gray sagebrush hills like a rich 
oasis. Nearer was the serpentine Klickitat winding through green 
gorges to the Columbia. To the north was the cold hulk of Rainier. 
A curtain of dark fog hung behind it, so the sweep of the northern 
reaches of the Cascades was not visible. But the territory in between 
could be seen in detail. Various lakes were jewels in a dark green 
tapestry. The largest, Mount Adams Lake, lay at our feet the lake 
where three- and four-pound eastern brook come to the dip net as 
gaily painted with sunset hues as any golden trout I have seen. Farther 
north were the Goat Rocks silhouetted against the sky, a long broken 
backbone of rock. Not far from their base were soft edges of the 
light green meadows of the Klickitat. 

As we circled the table top to the north and west, the great ice 
cliffs of Rusk, Lyman, Lava, Adams, and White Salmon glaciers 
reached almost to our feet. It seemed as though we were standing on 
the top edge of a gargantuan cliff of ice that had its roots in deep 
forests miles below us. These glaciers had the full force of the noon 
sun on them giving them a dazzling splendor. But it was a splendor 
that was terrifying too. Man could chop steps with his ice ax and 
slowly make his way up or across them; but one false step and he 
would spin to his death in the crevasses that wrinkled their surfaces. 

Beyond St. Helens to the southwest hung another fog, so we could 
not see the Coast Range between the Cascades and the Pacific. But 
to the south the eye could penetrate at least 500 miles. 

We got glimpses of the Columbia, which from our altitude looked 
like a ribbon of aquamarine rather than the second river of the United 
States. The dangerous gorge where the emigrants of the 1 840*5 
met with disaster now looked like an easy defile through rolling hills. 
Mount Hood stood clear. Beyond it to the south was Jefferson, named 
in honor of the President who sent Lewis and Clark on their way to 
the Pacific. Below it were the Three Sisters, sentinels on the western 
edge of Bend, Oregon. And way below it was the faint outline of 


another peak. Clarence Truitt thought it could not have been Shasta, 
deep in California, that we had seen; but since all other peaks were 
accounted for, Curtiss and I were convinced it was. 

All of these peaks Curtiss had climbed. He spoke of them as things 
as familiar to him as the lower 40 acres of alfalfa would be to a 
Cowiche rancher. 

I strained my eyes to see my prized Wallowas that reach the edge 
of Idaho to the east. But they were obscured in a haze of dust par 
ticles that in August are whipped up from the wheatlands lying fallow 
between Arlington, Pendleton, and Spokane. But I could see the 
verdant Elkhorn or Blue Mountains that skirt Pendleton on the east 
and run deep into the romantic John Day country in the south. These 
were the mountains that David Douglas, of fir tree fame, penetrated 
in 1826 in search of botanical specimens. They are 6000 to 7000 
feet high, but this morning they looked like a low-lying blue ridge of 
New England or Virginia. 

It had been my lifelong ambition to reach this spot, and I wanted 
to stay at the summit several days to study the mountain in its various 
moods. I would have loved to lie close to the stars on a clear night 
and see the moon appear over the Wallowas 300 miles to the east 
Here storms make up, and lightning waits to be unleashed. Here the 
sun rises in splendor over orchards and golden fields to the east and 
sets in glory over the Pacific to the west. Here man would have 
uninterrupted solitude. There was exultation in my heart, and I felt 
as if I were entering the presence of some unknown, unseen Power. 
But the wind drove us from the summit in thirty minutes. With our 
scant clothing we could not have lived out the day. 

Going down was easy. We stuck to the snow as much as we could. 
It was mushy, good footing for the heels. Curtiss, my son, Bill, and I 
took a side trip by the snow field where I had lost my hat, and found it 
in ice water at the edge of the snow. We circled back, dropped below 
the snow line, reached timber and finally the road that marked the 
trail s end. We were back at camp at 6 o clock, making the return 
trip in about four hours. We soon had a dinner of cantaloupe, 
chicken, beans, stew, tomatoes, cookies, and watermelon our first 
meal in 24 hours* 


As we ate Doug told of his climb of Mount Fujiyama in Japan, 
12,395 feet high. 

"Looks a bit like Mount St. Helens/ Doug said. "And it s not any 
more difficult a climb." 

It seems that there are rest stations about every 1000 feet or so on 
Fujiyama. At each station is a shelter where one can get food and 
lodging for a few yen. "This morning/ Doug added, "when we got 
above 10,000 feet on Adams, a rest station was the most attractive 
thing I could think of." 

We laughed, and I asked, "So you admit you re pretty soft for the 

Doug looked at me appraisingly. "Speaking only from a medical 
point of view, I would say that around 12,000 feet I thought it would 
take more than a rest station to save you." 

Our ascent of Mount Adams was by world competitive standards 
not difficult. We took a route that avoided glaciers. Mount Adams, 
in terms of world geography, is one of the minor peaks. Rainier, 
Shasta, Whitney, and McKinley are all higher. And even those are 
minor compared with the great peaks of the world, for in the 
Himalayas of Tibet there are 86 peaks that are over 24,000 feet 
three of these over 28,000 feet, six over 27,000, eighteen over 26,000, 
and Mount Everest reaches 29,141 feet into the heavens. On an 
ascent of any of those mountains the lowest base camp would prob 
ably be no lower than Mount Adams 12,307 feet. So to the specialists, 
Mount Adams would be no more than a training ground. 

For the average hiker, however, Mount Adams is ideal. There is 
glacier work if he wants it. The altitude is not a serious problem for 
one whose heart is sound in fact altitude is no problem under 
10,000 feet for anyone in good physical condition. At 10,000 some 
people get a slight nausea, but it usually passes. Moreover, the prob 
lem of acclimatization from 10,000 to 12,000 feet is not at all serious. 
Ullman in Kingdom of Adventure: Everest tells of those who accli 
mated themselves above 28,000 feet. The great George Leigh-Mallory 
was last seen climbing without oxygen within 800 feet of Everest s 
top. Whether he reached it we will never know, for he was never 


seen again. But the experience of his group shows how great is the 
adaptability of the human body to high altitudes. 

So the physical experience above 12,000 feet is vastly different from 
what we experienced on Mount Adams. But as far as one can tell 
from talks with others and from their chronicles, the spiritual experi 
ence is much the same once the glaciers are below you. 

That spiritual experience is difficult to describe. It has to do with 
man s relation to the universe and his Creator. The world on top of 
Mount Adams is in a real sense a strange and different world from 
what one ordinarily knows. It is the world as it was millions of years 
ago. The first impression is that there is no life of any kind. That is 
not quite correct, for there are traces of lichens at the top. Pea trie 
tells that lichens, traveling on the planetary winds, are to be found 
higher in the Himalayas than all other plants; they constitute prac 
tically the entire plant life on the antarctic continent; they are the 
first to colonize bare rock (Flowering Earth). But at the altitude of 
Mount Adams man has moved out of the thin rich life zone that 
encircles the globe. He has left the narrow belt in which he was 
conceived, where he can get sustenance, grow, and pass life along. 
Although Mount Adams top is not hostile to all life, it is hostile 
to man. 

There is a great loneliness about the place. Man was born to 
gregariousness, to the companionship of trees and grass, of birds and 
game, as well as the companionship of his kind. There is nothing on 
the mountain that extends a welcome. No insect, no bird. Not a 
shrub, bush, or blade of grass to vibrate in the wind. No flower 
not even the blush of heather to suggest immortality, to break the 
monotony of pumice, sand, and lava. The bleak top of Adams offers 
no sustenance. It has from the beginning of its time been barren and 
unproductive. It is waste land; it has no green leaf, the ultimate 
supplier of heat, shelter, clothing, and food for man. 

The feeling that it is no part of man s domain is heightened by 
the isolation. We were almost a mile above the timber line. The 
forests below were green splotches. We had left behind the cry of 
the coyote, the whistle of the bull elk, the screeching of the owl. One 


could peer long onto the ridges and into the valleys and never see 
any stirring. Not even a hawk or eagle could be seen soaring above 
the trees of the ravines along the lower reaches. We had left all 
familiar sights behind; we were foreigners in a strange place. It 
was a different world, separate and apart from anything I have 

A nuclear physicist might think of this lifeless mass of rock in terms 
of molecular activity and see in it the source of sufficient energy to 
take drudgery from man s shoulders if wisely used, or to destroy the 
earth itself if passion rather than reason reigned. But as the North 
west Indians Yakimas, Cayuses, Walla Wallas, Umatillas, and 
Chinooks well knew, this land was beyond the kingdom of man. 
It was reserved for more powerful forces. 

These thoughts tumbled through my mind during the brief thirty 
minutes we spent on the top of Adams. As I stood in the fierce gale, 
the first words of the Bible came to my lips: "In the beginning God 
created the heaven and the earth/ This, I thought, is the beginning. 
Eons ago this planet was hurled into space by some force at least 
as great as the sun itself. When it cooled there was everywhere in 
the valleys, on the ridges, at the highest peaks nothing but sand, 
pumice, lava, granite, marble. Inert matter reigned supreme. There 
was nothing to eat and no plant or animal to eat it. Sunsets made 
mountain glaciers warm and vibrant, but there was no one to enjoy 
them. There was no hunting or fishing, no forests, no deer, no fish. 
There were ugly seracs and dangerous crevasses on the glaciers. Man 
had not yet appeared, so there was none to tempt death and to 
achieve and boast. 

With this inert matter the Creator fashioned all that lives, moves, 
breathes. "And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed 
after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself 
after his kind; and God saw that it was good." The Creator brought 
gas and water together and created the tissue of life. He created the 
green leaf pigment called chlorophyl to serve as the link between the 
sun and life and set in motion a force that operates ceaselessly across 
the world and serves as the basic food factory for every living thing. 


"Only when man has done as much/ writes Peattie, "may he call 
himself the equal of a weed" (Flowering Earth). 

Then the Creator went on and produced an endless diversity of 
life that is the more amazing and mysterious the better we come to 
know it. The most exciting of all His creations is man himself. Man 
has the same amazing diversity as the meadows under Goat Rocks in 
June. Like the flowers, he has different colors. Like the mountains, 
he has varying moods. Like the trees of the forests, he has different 
capacities. Like the coyote and cougar, he has the supreme cunning 
to hunt and kill in ruthless and predatory ways. Yet, unlike all other 
forms of life, he has the capacity (as Confucius, Jesus, and Gandhi 
demonstrated) to be wholly and completely selfless, sacrificing 
his own existence so that others of his kind may live and find happi 

One cannot reach the desolate crags that look down on eternal 
glaciers without deep and strange spiritual experiences. If he ever 
was a doubter, he will, I think, come down a believer. He will have 
faith. He will know there is a Creator, a Supreme Being, a God, a 
Jehovah. He will know it because otherwise the mind cannot com 
prehend how life could have been created out of the inert matter. 
When he sees the stuff that was the beginning of life, he will know 
that it took an omniscient One to sculpture man; to fashion one who 
can laugh, and cry, and love; to mold out of rock a soul that can 
aspire to the stars and a heart that can sacrifice all for an idea or a 
loved one. 

When I was climbing Adams, the mountain seemed permanent 
and indomitable, like the rock of ages. But in my sleeping bag that 
night, back at Cold Springs, I thought of the temporary nature even 
of mountains. When Adams was born there were hot lava flows that 
burned everything they touched and turned forests to cinders. Their 
heat extended throughout the land. At night the flames from the 
craters lit up the heavens and threw weird and wondrous colored 
films against the clouds. Then came explosions that rocked the 
earth and filled the air with dust that obscured the sun. Ashes and 
pumice many feet deep were scattered for miles around, like that 


which last came from St. Helens on November 23, 1842, and fell on 
The Dalles, Oregon. Then the eruptions became less frequent. The 
earth cooled. Lichens and all the wonders of botany took hold and 
blanketed the earth. The wind, frost, rain, snow, and ice started 
crumbling the mountain. 

Erosion works tirelessly. Lava disintegrates to soil. Glaciers carve 
gashes. Softer rocks are removed. Sharp ridges and ragged crests grad 
ually crumble to build moraines. A center core of hard volcanic rock 
alone will stand. Then it too will weather, and become a rounded hill. 
The rounded hill will become a plain. And tens of thousands of years 
later men will take excursions to find the base of the proud and 
mighty mountain that folklore tells them stood here in ancient days. 

I remembered the erosion of Adams I had seen that day and knew 
why geologists had called it appalling. Adams was old; it had passed 
its prime, and like man would some day be leveled. 

A slight wind came up and touched the tips of the pine that 
towered over our camp. The murmur of the trees made it seem 
that the whole forest was on the move. Indeed, trees do move. Con 
tinents have been invaded by flowers, grass, shrubs, and trees. North 
America has been so invaded three times. The first of these floristic 
migrations came from Greenland. The second came from the Carib 
bean in the Cretaceous period some 60 million of years ago. Tropical 
floras moved northward and eventually covered Oregon and Wash 
ington. This was when the Pacific Northwest was subtropical. Then 
the weather changed and the invaders retreated. Down from the 
north, probably from Asia, came the third floristic invasion the pine 
and fir and redwoods. The Caribbean floras retreated, leaving sturdy 
remnants behind. The two invaders met. New species were developed 
and traces of each are found today even in alpine meadows. 

And so it is that even mountains and trees move on and a new life 
takes their place. 

I have often thought that the greatest outdoor achievement of all 
would be to climb Mount Everest. I am not thinking of the achieve 
ment of being the first to climb it, though that would add to the 
adventure. The thrill of accomplishing the well-nigh impossible would 


be great though a hundred had preceded me. That ambition will 
never be realized, for the supreme exertions that assault would entail 
make it an adventure for one in his twenties. When the years were 
right, I was too involved in other things to conquer any of the giants 
of the Cascade Range, let alone the Himalayas. But the appetite for 
it remains, and was only whetted by the adventure of Mount Adams 
in 1945. 

I have often wondered why these glacial peaks beckon men, why 
they summon them to exhaustion and even to death. Mountain 
expeditions may serve scientific purposes; but with modern inventions 
there are easier, less costly ways by which the ends of science can be 
served. Men do not often climb these peaks just as stunts, though 
they do on occasion. I knew a man who made a wager he could 
climb Rainier, and then in order to collect his bet hired two guides 
one to pull and the other to push him to the top. In that way he 
made the last 4000 feet. 

As we climbed Mount Adams I remembered the story of Clarence 
Truitt and his experience. Clarence wanted above all else to join the 
first Byrd expedition to the Antarctic. He applied and found he would 
be required to submit evidence of his outdoor stamina. So he and 
Clarence Starcher and Quinn A. Blackburn put their heads together 
and planned a crucial test. They would climb Hood, St. Helens, 
Adams, Goat Rocks, and Rainier in nine days. 

Truitt and Starcher drove from Yakima to Hood and climbed the 
north side from Cloud Cap Inn. They hiked down the south side to 
Government Camp, where their car was waiting, then they drove to 
Spirit Lake at the foot of St. Helens where Blackburn met them. 
That took one day. There they turned over the car to a friend and 
went the rest of the way on foot. The second day the three of them 
climbed St. Helens and were back at its base at 3 o clock that after 
noon. It is 40 miles cross-country between St. Helens and Adams, 
wild and broken country made up of a series of parallel ridges around 
4000 feet high. When a climber gets on one knifelike ridge, he must 
drop 3000 or 4000 feet to the valley and climb another ridge just like 
it. These ridges are known in the West as niggerheads because of the 
black heads of basalt that decorate them. Clarence and his companion 


started across this rough country at 3 o clock, and traveled until 10 
that night. They were up again at 2 A.M. and continued until 10 the 
third night. At that time they were near the timber line of Adams on 
its north side. 

The morning of the fourth day they followed the north side of 
Adams to the top, went down the same side, and headed for Goat 

"Got mixed up in the fog and went 15 miles out of our way that 
day/ Clarence told me. 

The fifth day they climbed Gilbert Peak and slept that night some 
where in the wilderness to the west. The sixth day they climbed 
Rainier over Kautz Glacier, then thought to be an impossible ascent. 
They got to its top at 7 P.M., were back at Camp Muir at midnight, 
and down to Paradise Inn at 2 A.M. 

"Did you get a good night s sleep?" I asked. 

"After a fashion," Clarence answered. "Tried to sleep in beds in 
a tent but the wind whipped the sidewalk so hard we couldn t sleep. 
We went outside and made out on the ground." 

Blackburn left the party at Ohanapecosh Hot Springs and returned 
to Seattle. 

Early the eighth day the two Clarences pushed through the rough 
wilderness to the east, up and down the ridges, and came out at 
Bumping Lake on the ninth day. 

All they had to eat for these nine days were peanuts, raisins, wheat, 
and a few fish they caught. They had no dishes, or salt and pepper. 
They had no bedrolls. They carried long underwear in their haver 
sacks and put it on at night. 

"Why didn t you go with Byrd to the Antarctic?" I asked. 

"Blackburn went," replied Clarence. And even after twenty years 
there was disappointment in his voice as he added: "But family mat 
ters developed so I couldn t go. Starcher couldn t go either." 

A desire for a stunt does not sustain men through long ordeals 
such as Clarence Truitt endured. Nor is mountaineering merely an 
other form of physical culture. It involves more than legs and lungs. 
It is not exercise; it is adventure. When Mallory, who perished on 
Everest, was asked why he wanted to climb it, he answered, "Because 


it is there." And in commenting on an unsuccessful assault of its peak 
he said, "Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves/ 

When I climbed Mount Adams I think I found the answer to the 
question of why men stake everything to reach these peaks, yet obtain 
no visible reward for their exhaustion. It came to me when I almost 
failed on the last steep pitch of Adams and was pushed on by Homer s 
words. Man s greatest experience the one that brings supreme 
exultation is spiritual, not physical. It is the catching of some vision 
of the universe and translating it into a poem or work of art, into a 
Sermon on the Mount, into a Gettysburg Address, into a mathemati 
cal formula that unlocks the doors of atomic energy. This is a drive 
that develops early in life. Boys have it. The lad who picks up an 
arrowhead in the woods has established his first vivid and dramatic 
contact with history. It was the hand of a redman, now dead for 
centuries perhaps, that found this stone of agate or obsidian and 
fashioned from it a jagged-edged knife point to drop a rabbit or deer. 
Having received it from the redman, this boy walks for a moment by 
the redman s side in a long, silent, swinging stride. And he even may 
discover that he, a mere boy, can stalk a deer and by soft tread and 
quick thinking match the wits of one of the smartest of all animals. 

The same experience comes in a host of other discoveries along 
the mountain trail: how to put one s heart and lungs and legs into 
low gear for mastery of a mountainside; how to rub sticks together 
to make fire; how to fashion lures to deceive trout or to construct 
traps for chipmunks; what mushrooms are edible; what differences 
mark the species of trees and grasses. These are discoveries that bring 
as strange a thrill to a boy as test-tube discoveries bring to a bio 
chemist. In adult life the same kind of experiences can be seen in 
Thoreau s Walden and in Peattie s The Road of the Naturalist and 
Almanac for Moderns. They can indeed be seen in every laboratory 
where scales of ignorance are being removed and new tissues of knowl 
edge revealed. The satisfaction is the same. 

The climbing of the high peaks of the world falls in that category. 
The excitement is not the view to be seen, the flirtation with danger, 
or the communion with the universe that the high peaks afford. 
These play a part, but they are usually secondary. The challenge is 


in the discovery of the outermost limits of one s own endurance. 

Sound heart and lungs are not enough for mastery of the peaks. 
It takes the power of the spirit too, a resolve and determination that 
knows no limit even when the feet are too heavy to lift. It is spirit 
against matter, the power of the soul to drive the legs above fatigue 
and to push an exhausted body without whimper. It is more than 
what we call guts. It is the positive force that requires a man to go 
forward even when every muscle rebels. It is man against the moun 
tain finite man against the universe. 

In these moments man discovers himself: what the limits of his 
endurance are, how far the spirit will enable him to go. Then he 
discovers the power of his soul to carry him on. 

When he wins, there comes an exquisite moment, a feeling that 
anything is possible. There comes a sense of austerity, a feeling of 
peace. All the tensions are gone. Man stands powerful and uncon- 
quered atop the world. He has destroyed nothing to get there, except 
the doubts and fears that sought to prevent him from discovering 
his true worth. 

If there is failure, no bitterness follows. His respect for the moun 
tain increases. He has not failed; he has only discovered the limits of 
his own strength and the power of the universe. If there has been 
no niggardly effort, no compromise on his part, there is no room for 
regret. He stands proud and erect, not broken or sad. He has found a 
force greater than himself. It is a master whom he admires and re 
spects. When he is beaten by his fellow man, dark hatred may grow 
in his heart. When he is beaten by the mountain, he bows to it. 

This is a spiritual experience that is difficult to describe. But I am 
sure it is not peculiar to just a few of us. I find the same thought 
running through much of the literature on mountaineering: James 
Ramsey Ullman, R. L. G. Irving, Frank S. Smythe, Sir Francis Young- 
husband, T. Howard Somervell, Clarence King, George Leigh-Mal- 
lory, Those who do no more than enjoy the glories of the high peaks 
from the valleys will perhaps have difficulty in understanding the 
experience of which I speak. But by the same token, man does not 
leam about fly-fishing merely by practicing his casting in a pool in the 
city park. 

Chapter XXII Kloockman 

KLOOCHMAN ROCK stands on the southern side of the Tieton Basin 
in the Cascades. It is an oval-shaped lava rock, running lengthwise 
northwest by southeast, a half-mile or more. It rises 2000 feet above 
the basin. The first third of its elevation is gained through gentle 
slopes of pine and fir. Next are a few hundred yards of tumbled 
rock. Then there is the cliff rising to the sky, 1200 feet or more 
straight as the Washington Monument and over twice as high. 

Kloochman is a rock of many moods. I remember it at sunset from 
the top of Hogback Mountain, 15 or 20 miles to the west. Then it 
was the most commanding view in the vast expanse of the Tieton. 
It glistened in the spotlight of the low-lying sun like a primordial 
monster with skin of burnished armor. Its humped back bristled to 
the sky; its snout was buried in deep brush. I recall Kloochman on 
an overcast day from Blue Slide Lookout on Darling Mountain, 
which lies to the southwest. Then it was a tumbled mass of dreary rock 
with no charm or challenge. Looking up from the base of the tower 
ing wall, I have felt insignificant and fragile beyond words. At such 
a time Kloochman has represented a power and force too great for 
man. I also have stood under the cliffs at sunrise, when every crack 
and crevice in Kloochman s eastern wall has been visible. There 
is nothing forbidding about the rock at such a time. When in that 
mood, it has seemed to extend a friendly invitation to mount its 

Kloochman is an Indian name for woman. And those who see it 
first from the north or east might not think the name to be wholly 
inappropriate. The northwest end of the rock has been eroded by 
wind and frost and rain so as to leave naked two gnarled and chewed 
teats pointing to the sky. That fact may have deeper significance than 



we know. The Indian legend has it that Kloochman is a woman turned 
to stone. There was a chief of the Yakimas known as Meow-wah. He 
was peaceful and noted for his wisdom and virtue. He was a bachelor. 
The wiles of beautiful Indian maidens were lost on him. His people 
decided an effort should be made to have him wed. So they chose 
the four loveliest girls from all the tribes and sent them to him from 
the north, south, east, and west, bearing gifts. Meow-wah heard 
of the plan and consulted Coyote. When the four beauties came near, 
Coyote turned them all into stone. The Indian maiden who came 
from the south was turned into Kloochman or Woman Rock. 
Coyote, to make the job complete, turned Meow-wah into the 
mountain now called Goose Egg. 

I climbed Kloochman in the summer of 1948. My climb was a 
leisurely one. There are vast rock fields at the base of the towering 
cliffs rock fields fringed with willow, Douglas maple, creambush, 
currant, and serviceberry. And occasionally the edges of these fields 
are decorated with dark green splotches of the prostrate juniper. I 
worked my way through these shrubs as I skirted the base of the 
rock and finally found on the east an easy incline leading to the top. 
Almost all the way up I found patches of a dwarf pentstemon, dark 
purple and lightly scented. It grew along the wall wherever there 
was a handful of dirt. The delicacy of the flower atoned for the 
coarse and ragged basalt that in some violent upthrust formed this 
old sentinel of Tieton Basin. 

There were fleecy clouds in the west. All else was clear. At my 
feet lay the milky Tieton Reservoir, stretching for miles behind the 
concrete dam between Westfall Rocks and Goose Egg. Around the 
reservoir were ancient landmarks that I had known intimately as a 
boy. To the northwest were Russell Ridge and Boot Jack Rock. 
Behind Boot Jack was the valley of Indian Creek that leads up to 
Blankenship Meadows and Tumac. To the west were Big Peak, 
Round, and Hogback. To the southwest were Bear, Darling, and Short 
and Dirty Ridge. These formed a semicircle around the reservoir. 


Behind me to the east were Chimney Peaks, looking in the late sun 
like cones of miniature volcanoes. 

As I sat on top of Kloochman that afternoon, I relived an earlier 
ascent of my youth far from being so leisurely and peaceful. 

It was in 1913 when Doug was 19 and I was not quite 15 that the 
two of us made this climb of Kloochman. Walter Kohagen, Doug, 
and I were camped in the Tieton Basin at a soda spring. The basin 
was then in large part a vast rich bottomland. We were traveling 
light, one blanket each. The night, I recall, was so bitter cold that 
we took turns refueling the campfire so that we could keep our backs 
warm enough to sleep. We rose at the first show of dawn, and cooked 
frying-pan bread and trout for breakfast. We had not planned to 
climb Kloochman, but somehow the challenge came to us as the 
sun touched her crest. 

After breakfast we started circling the rock. There are fairly easy 
routes up Kloochman, but we shunned them. When we came to the 
southeast face (the one that never has been conquered, I belieye) 
we chose it. Walter decided not to make the climb, but to wait at 
the base of the cliff for Doug and me. The July day was warm and 
cloudless. Doug led. The beginning was easy. For 100 feet or so we 
found ledges six to twelve inches wide we could follow to the left or 
right. Some ledges ran up the rock ten feet or more at a gentle grade. 
Others were merely steps to another ledge higher up. Thus by hugging 
the wall we could either ease ourselves upward or hoist ourselves from 
one ledge to another. 

When we were about 100 feet up the wall, the ledges became 
narrower and footwork more precarious. Doug suggested we take 
off our shoes. This we did, tying them behind us on our belts. In 
stocking feet we wormed up the wall, clinging like flies to the dark 
rock. The pace was slow. We gingerly tested each toehold and 
fingerhold for loose rock before putting our weight on it. At times 
we had to inch along sidewise, our stomachs pressed tightly against 
the rock, in order to gain a point where we could reach the ledge 
above us. If we got on a ledge that turned out to be a cul-de-sac, 


the much more dangerous task of going down the rock wall would 
confront us. Hence we picked our route with care and weighed the 
advantages of several choices which frequently were given us. At 
times we could not climb easily from one ledge to another. The one 
above might be a foot or so high. Then we would have to reach it 
with one knee, slowly bring the other knee up, and then, delicately 
balancing on both knees on the upper ledge, come slowly to our 
feet by pressing close to the wall and getting such purchase with 
our fingers as the lava rock permitted. 

In that tortuous way we made perhaps 600 feet in two hours. It 
was late forenoon when we stopped to appraise our situation. We 
were in serious trouble. We had reached the feared cul-de-sac. The 
two- or three-inch ledge on which we stood ended. There seemed 
none above us within Doug s reach. I was longer-legged than Doug; 
so perhaps I could have reached some ledge with my fingers if I were 
ahead. But it was impossible to change positions on the wall. Doug 
was ahead and there he must stay. The problem was to find a way 
to get him up. 

Feeling along the wall, Doug discovered a tiny groove into which 
he could press the tips of the fingers of his left hand. It might help 
him maintain balance as his weight began to shift from the lower 
ledge to the upper one. But there was within reach not even a lip 
of rock for his right hand. Just out of reach, however, was a sub 
stantial crevice, one that would hold several men. How could Doug 
reach it? I could not boost him, for my own balance was insecure. 
Clearly, Doug would have to jump to reach it and he would have 
but one jump. Since he was standing on a ledge only a few inches 
wide, he could not expect to jump for his handhold, miss it, and 
land safely. A slip meant he would go hurtling down some 600 feet 
onto the rocks. After much discussion and indecision, Doug decided 
to take the chance and go up. 

He asked me to do him a favor: If he failed and fell, I might 
still make it, since I was longer-legged; would I give certain messages 
to his family in that event? I nodded. 

"Then listen carefully. Try to remember my exact words," he told 


me. "Tell Mother that I love her dearly. Tell her I think she is the 
most wonderful person in the world. Tell her not to worry that I did 
not suffer, that God willed it so. Tell Sister that I have been a mean 
little devil but I had no malice towards her. Tell her I love her too 
that some day I wanted to marry a girl as wholesome and cheery 
and good as she. 

"Tell Dad I was brave and died unafraid. Tell him about our climb 
in full detail. Tell Dad I have always been very proud of him, that 
some day I had planned to be a doctor too. Tell him I lived a clean 
life, that I never did anything to make him ashamed. . . . Tell 
Mother, Sister, and Dad I prayed for them/ 

Every word burned into me. My heart was sick, my lips quivered. 
I pressed my face against the rock so Doug could not see. I wept. 

All was silent. A pebble fell from the ledge on which I squeezed. 
I counted seconds before it hit 600 feet below with a faint, faraway 
tinkling sound. Would Doug drop through the same space? Would 
I follow? When you fall 600 feet do you die before you hit the 
bottom? Closing my eyes, I asked God to help Doug up the wall. 

In a second Doug said in a cheery voice, "Well, here goes/ 

A false bravado took hold of us. I said he could do it. He said 
he would. He wiped first one hand then the other on his trousers. 
He placed both palms against the wall, bent his knees slowly, paused 
a split second, and jumped straight up. It was not much of a jump 
only six inches or so. But that jump by one pressed against a cliff 
600 feet in the air had daredevil proportions. I held my breath; my 
heart pounded. The suspense was over. 

Doug made the jump, and in a second was hanging by two hands 
from a strong, wide ledge. There was no toehold; he would have to 
hoist himself by his arms alone. He did just that. His body went 
slowly up as if pulled by some unseen winch. Soon he had the weight 
of his body above the ledge and was resting on the palms of his 
hands. He then put his left knee on the ledge, rolled over on his side, 
and chuckled as he said, "Nothing to it." 

A greater disappointment followed. Doug s exploration of the 
ledge showed he was in a final cul-de-sac. There was no way up. 


There was not even a higher ledge he could reach by jumping. We 
were now faced with the nightmare of going down the sheer rock 
wall. We could not go down frontwards because the ledges were 
too narrow and the wall too steep. We needed our toes, not our 
heels, on the rock; and we needed to have our stomachs pressed 
tightly against it. Then we could perhaps feel our way. But as every 
rock expert knows, descent of a cliff without ropes is often much 
more difficult than ascent. 

That difficulty was impressed on us by the first move. Doug had 
to leave the ledge he had reached by jumping. He dared not slide 
blindly to the skimpy ledge he had just left. I must help him. I must 
move up the wall and stand closer to him. Though I could not 
possibly hold his weight, I must exert sufficient pressure to slow up 
his descent and to direct his toe onto the narrow ledge from which 
he had just jumped. 

I was hanging to the rock like a fly, twelve feet or more to Doug s 
left. I inched my way toward him, first dropping to a lower ledge and 
then climbing to a higher one, using such toeholds as the rock 
afforded and edging my way crabwise. 

When I reached him I said, "Now I ll help." 

Doug lowered himself and hung by his fingers full length. His 
feet were about six inches above the ledge from which he had 
jumped. He was now my responsibility. If he dropped without aid or 
direction he was gone. He could not catch and hold to the scanty 
ledge. I had little space for maneuvering. The surface on which I 
stood was not more than three inches wide. My left hand fortunately 
found an overhead crevice that gave a solid anchor in case my feet 

I placed my right hand in the small of Doug s back and pressed 
upward with all my might. "Now you can come," I said. 

He let go gently, and the full weight of his. body came against my 
arm. My arm trembled under the tension. My left hand hung onto 
the crack in the rock like a grappling hook. My stomach pressed 
against the wall as if to find mucilage in its pores. My toes dug in as 
I threw in every ounce of strength. 


Down Doug came a full inch. I couldn t help glancing down 
and seeing the rocks 600 feet below. 

Down Doug moved another inch, then a third. My left hand 
seemed paralyzed. The muscles of my toes were aching. My right 
arm shook. I could not hold much longer. 

Down came Doug a fourth inch. I thought he was headed for 
destruction. His feet would miss the only toehold within reach. I 
could not possibly hold him. He would plunge to his death because 
my arm was not strong enough to hold him. The messages he had 
given me for his family raced through my mind. And I saw myself, 
sick and ashamed, standing before them, testifying to my own 
inadequacy, repeating his last words. 

"Steady, Doug. The ledge is a foot to your right/ He pawed the 
wall with the toes of his foot, searching. 

"I can t find it. Don t let go." 

The crisis was on us. Even if I had been safely anchored, my 
cramped position would have kept me from helping him much 
more. I felt helpless. In a few seconds I would reach the physical 
breaking point and Doug would go hurtling off the cliff. I did not 
see how I could keep him from slipping and yet maintain my own 

I will never know how I did it. But I tapped some reserve and 
directed his right foot onto the ledge from which he had earlier 
jumped. I did it by standing for a moment on my left foot alone 
and then using my right leg as a rod to guide his right foot to the 
ledge his swinging feet had missed. 

His toes grabbed the ledge as if they were the talons of a bird. 
My right leg swung back to my perch. 

"Are you OK?" I asked. 

"Yes/ said Doug. "Good work." 

My right arm fell from him, numb and useless. I shook from 
exhaustion and for the first time noticed that my face was wet with 
perspiration. We stood against the rock in silence for several minutes, 
relaxing and regaining our composure. 

Doug said: "Let s throw our shoes down. It will be easier going." 


So we tintied them from our belts and dropped them to Walter 
Kohagen, who was waiting at the rock field below us. 

Our descent was painfully slow but uneventful. We went down 
backwards, weaving a strange pattern across the face of the cliff as 
we moved from one side to the other. It was perhaps midafternoon 
when we reached the bottom, retrieved our shoes, and started around 
the other side of the rock. We left the southeast wall unconquered. 

But, being young, we were determined to climb the rock. So once 
more we started to circle. When we came to the northwest wall, 
we selected it as our route. 

Here, too, is a cliff rising 1000 feet like some unfinished pyramid. 
But close examination shows numerous toe- and fingerholds that 
make the start at least fairly easy. So we set out with our shoes on. 

Again it was fairly easy going for a hundred feet or so, when Doug, 
who was ahead, came to a ledge to which he could not step. On later 
climbs we would send the longer-legged chap ahead. And on other 
occasions Doug himself has used a rope to traverse this spot. But 
this day success of the climb depended at this point on Doug s short 
legs alone. The ledge to which he must move was up to his hips. 
There were few fingerholds overhead, and none firm enough to carry 
his whole weight. Only a few tiny cracks were within reach to serve 
as purchase for him. But Doug would not give up. 

He hitched up his trousers, and grasped a tiny groove of rock with 
the tips of the fingers of his left hand, pressing his right hand flat 
against the smooth rock wall as if it had magical sticking power. 
Slowly he lifted his left knee until it was slightly over the ledge above 
him. To do so he had to stand tiptoe on his right foot. Pulling with 
his left hand, he brought his right knee up. Doug was now on both 
knees on the upper ledge. If he could find good purchase overhead 
for his hands, he was safe. His hands explored the wall above him. 
He moved them slowly over most of it without finding a hold. Then 
he reached straight above his head and cried out, This is our lucky 

He had found strong rough edges of rock, and on this quickly 
pulled himself up. His hands were on a ledge a foot wide. He lay 


down on it on his stomach and grasped my outstretched hand. The 
pull of his strong arm against the drop of 100 feet or more was as 
comforting an experience as any I can recall. In a jiffy I was at his 
side. We pounded each other on the shoulders and laughed. 

My own most serious trouble was yet to come. For a while Doug 
and I were separated. I worked laterally along a ledge to the south, 
found easier going, and in a short time was 200 feet or more up the 
rock wall. I was above Doug, 25 feet or so, and 50 feet to his 
right. We had been extremely careful to test each toe- and finger 
hold before putting our trust in it. Kloochman is full of treacherous 
rock. We often discovered thin ledges that crumbled under pressure 
and showered handfuls of rock and dust down below. Perhaps I was 
careless; but whatever the cause, the thin ledge on which I was 
standing gave way. 

As I felt it slip, I grabbed for a hold above me. The crevasse I 
seized was solid. But there I was, hanging by my hands 200 feet in 
the air, my feet pawing the rock. To make matters worse, my camera 
had swung between me and the cliff when I slipped. It was a crude 
and clumsy instrument, a box type that I carried on a leather strap 
across my shoulders. Its hulk was actually pushing me from the cliff. 
I twisted in an endeavor to get rid of it, but it was firmly lodged 
between me and the wall. 

I yelled to Doug for help. He at once started edging toward me. 
It seemed hours, though it was probably not over a few minutes. He 
shouted, "Hang on, I ll be there." 

Hang on I did. My fingers ached beyond description. They were 
frozen to the rock. My exertion in pawing with my feet had added 
to the fatigue. The ache of my fingers extended to my wrists and 
then along my arms. I stopped thrashing around and hung like a 
sack, motionless. Every second seemed a minute, every minute an 
hour. I did not see how I could possibly hold. 

I would slip, I thought, slip to sure death. I could not look down 
because of my position. But in my mind s eye I saw in sharp outline 
the jagged rocks that seemed to pull me toward them. The camera 
kept pushing my fingers from the ledge. I felt them move. They 


began to give way before the pull of a force too great for flesh to 

Fright grew in me. The idea of hanging helpless 200 feet above the 
abyss brought panic. I cried out to Doug but the words caught in 
my dry throat. I was like one in a nightmare who struggles to shout 
who is then seized with a fear that promises to destroy him. 

Then there flashed through my mind a family scene. Mother was 
sitting in the living room talking to me, telling me what a wonderful 
man Father was. She told me of his last illness and his death. She 
told me of his departure from Cleveland, Washington to Portland, 
Oregon for what proved to be a fatal operation. His last words to her 
were: "If I die it will be glory. If I live, it will be grace/ 

The panic passed. The memory of those words restored reason. 
Glory to die? I could not understand why it would be glory to die. 
It would be glory to live. But as Father said, it might take grace to 
live, grace from One more powerful than either Doug or I. 

And so again that day I prayed. I asked God to save my life, to 
save me from destruction on this rock wall. I asked God to make my 
fingers strong, to give me strength to hang on. I asked God to give 
me courage, to make me unafraid. I asked God to give me guts, to 
give me power to do the impossible. 

My fingers were as numb as flesh that is full of novocaine. They 
seemed detached from me, as if they belonged to someone else. My 
wrists, my shoulders, cried out for respite from the pain. It would be 
such welcome relief if they could be released from the weight that 
was on them. 

Hang on? You can t hang on. You are a weakling. The weaklings 
die in the woods. 

Weakling? I ll show you. How long must I hang on? All day? OK, 
all day then. I ll hang on, I ll hang on. O God, dear God, help me 
hang on! 

I felt someone pushing my left foot upwards. It was Doug. As if 
through a dream his voice was saying, "Your feet are 18 inches below 
your toehold." Doug found those toeholds for my feet. 

I felt my shoes resting in solid cracks. I pulled myself up and 


leaned on my elbows on the ledge to which my hands had been glued, 
I flexed my fingers and bent my wrists to bring life back. 

Doug came up abreast of me and said, "We re even Stephen now/ 

"Even Stephen?" 

"Today each of us has saved the other s life/ 

It was shortly above the point where Doug saved my life that we 
discovered a classic path up Kloochman. It is a three-sided chimney 
chute, a few feet wide, that leads almost to the top. There are several 
such chutes on Kloochman. In later years Cragg Gilbert and Louis 
Ulrich went up Devil s Chimney on the northeast face in a seven- 
hour nerve-wracking climb with ropes. Clarence Truitt and many 
others have gone up the chimney chute that Doug and I discovered. 
Then as now this chute was filled with loose rock that had to be 
cleared away. To negotiate the chute we took off our shoes and tied 
them to our belts. We climbed the chute in stocking feet, pressing 
our hands and feet against the opposing walls as we kept our backs 
to the abyss below us. This day we went up the chute with ease, 
stopping every eight feet or so to measure our progress. 

The sun was setting when we reached the top. We were gay and 
buoyant. We talked about the glories of the scene in front of us. We 
bragged a bit about our skill in rock work how we must be part 
mountain goat to have reached the top. We shouted and hallooed 
to the empty meadows far below us. 

On Kloochman Rock that July afternoon both Doug and I valued 
life more because death had passed so close. It was wonderful to be 
alive, breathing, using our muscles, shouting, seeing. 

We stayed briefly at the top. We went down as we came up, in 
stocking feet. We raced against darkness, propelled by the thought 
of spending the night on Kloochman s treacherous wall. 

It was deep dusk when we rejoined Walter on the rock fields at 
the base. We put on our shoes and hurried on. We entered the woods 
at double-quick time, seeking the trail that led toward the South 
Fork of the Tieton. We saw the trail from the edge of a clearing a? 
a faint, light streak in a pitch-black night. We had two ways of 
keeping on it. We had no matches or torch or flashlight. But we 


could feel the edges with our feet. And we could search out the 
strip of night sky over the path. 

We finally decided that it would take too long to follow the trail 
to camp in this groping way. We d take a short cut to Westfall 
Rocks, whose formless shape we could see against the sky. We took 
to the brush on our right, and kept our hands out in front to ward 
off boughs and branches. We crossed a marshy bog where we went 
in up to our knees. We came to soft earth where we went in up to 
our hips. 

There were animals in the brush. We could hear them in the 
thickets, disturbed by our approach, and going out ahead of us. 
Thinking they might be bear, we paused to listen. "Cattle," said 

We reached the Tieton River, which we knew could not be forded 
in many places in that stretch. So we took off our pants, shoes, and 
shirts and rolled them in bundles which we held on our heads. We 
waded out into the dark, cold, swift river, Doug in the lead. We had 
by accident picked one of the few good fords in the Tieton. We 
were never in water over our waists. 

Then we dressed and located the road leading back to camp. As 
we started along it Doug said: "You know, Bill, there is power in 

That night I prayed again. I knelt on a bed of white fir boughs 
beside the embers of a campfire and thanked God for saving Doug s 
life and mine, for giving us the strength to save each other. 

When I climbed Kloochman in 1948, my steps were more cautious 
and measured than they had been in 1913. There was less dash, less 
abandon in this adult ascent. I took my ease, feeling my way with 
care. But the memories of the earlier trip were still fresh in my 
mind as if it had happened only the previous week instead of thirty- 
five years ago. 

As I climbed, I realized how conservative man became in his 
physical endeavors as he passed his thirties. I was not thinking of 
wind or stamina, for mine were both good. I was thinking of the 


subtle forces that control the reflexes. It struck home why only young 
men make good fighter pilots how it is that age fast takes the dare 
devil out of man. There was a thrill in this adult climb, but the 
reckless, carefree attitude of the earlier day had gone. 

Yet I relived the experience of 1913. Places, as well as smells and 
shapes and sounds, can be symbols of fear and terror. He who, after 
long years of absence, revisits a place associated with sadness or guilt 
or suffering is likely to relive for a moment the sensations he experi 
enced there. The forces at work are subtle; and unless he is aware of 
their influences, he may be painfully disturbed or upset. Unless he 
recognizes the part these imponderables play in human emotions, 
he may indeed be seized with a new discomfiture greater than the 
one that seized him earlier at the selfsame place. 

The day I climbed Kloochman as a man, all the sensations of the 
earlier trip returned to me. There was the trembling excitement of 
the start. Doug s messages to his family raced once more through 
my mind, as if he had just uttered them. I saw Doug make his jump 
up the side of the cliff while he was 600 feet in the air. I saw him 
hanging on the ledge, doomed to die. I felt the weight of his body 
against my arm. I felt myself slipping slowly from the rock to destruc 
tion. It seemed once more that demons were pulling at my feet with 
a power too great for flesh and blood to resist. Once again little ves 
tiges of the old fear passed through me. 

Those, however, were fleeting sensations. When I came to the 
top a sense of calm came over me, a deep peace, the feeling a man 
has when he is with the woman he loves. And with the calm came 

Kloochman was in my very heart. Here we had accomplished the 
impossible. We had survived terrible ordeals on her sheer walls. We 
had faced death down; and because of our encounter with it, we 
had come to value life the more. On these dark walls in 1913 I had 
first communed with God. Here I had felt the presence of a Mighty 
Force, infinitely beyond man. Here I had known the strength of 
unseen hands helping me along ledges. 

I sat on the top of the rock looking to the west. The sun was 
dipping. The milky waters of the Tieton Reservoir hid forever from 


the eyes of man the gorgeous McAllister Meadows where we used 
to camp. Beyond was the wild panorama of the Tieton cliffs, snowy 
peaks, hillsides of evergreen as soft in the late sun as the folds of a 
velvet gown, jagged fingers of rocks, jumbled ridges. It is the country 
that Doug and I have long loved. It is where Doug once said he 
wanted his ashes scattered. There was not a breath of wind. There 
was a deep and profound quiet. The only life in sight was a hawk, 
the slow-flying mouser type. But he uttered no sound as he caught 
mysterious currents of air and glided away to some resting place on 
Short and Dirty Ridge to the southwest. 

I wondered if Kloochman had been a testing ground for other lads. 
I wondered if others had met on her walls the challenge of life and 
death. I knew now what a boy could not know, that fear of death 
was the compound of all other fears. I knew that long years ago I 
had begun to shed on Kloochman s walls the great, overpowering 

Kloochman became that day a symbol of adversity and challenge 
of the forces that have drawn from man his greatest spiritual and 
physical achievements. 

Voltaire said that "History is the sound of heavy boots going 
upstairs and the rustle of satin slippers coming down/ 7 This country 
fortunately is still in the "heavy boots" stage of history. That is a 
stage of a nation s life that is often marked by the tramp of the boots 
of armies bent on conquest. It is usually evidenced by robust atti 
tudes. But those attitudes can be expressed in ways less destructive 
than war. The growth of society, as Arnold Toynbee shows, is the 
successful response to challenge. The challenge may be the existence 
of some form of slavery, the poverty of a desert, the rigors of moun 
tains, or a war. When the challenge is met and the goal achieved, 
there is a tremendous impetus for growth. A powerful energizing 
force is let loose that produces men and ideas that are dynamic. 

This country is in that stage of growth. It is not bent on military 
conquest as were most of the countries which have sent armies across 
continents and oceans. In the realm of physical forces this nation 
has its true bent on the conquest of angry rivers, unproductive 
wastelands, erosion, the atom. In the realm of human relations it is 


bent on conquest of poverty and disease, high prices and scarcity, 
industrial injustice, racial prejudices, and the virus of political ideol 
ogies that would corrode and destroy the values of Western civiliza 

These are powerful challenges. The fact that many of them are 
subtle and invisible makes them no less potent. A prejudice can be 
as ominous and threatening as a man with a bayonet. The issues that 
challenge this generation call for bold and daring action. They de 
mand men who live dangerously men who place adventure ahead 
of security, men who would trade the comfort of today for the chance 
of scaling a new peak of progress tomorrow. That activity demands 
men who fear neither men nor ideas. For it is only when fear is 
cast out that the full creative energies are unleashed. Then one is 
unhampered by hesitation and indecision. One s energies are not 
diverted to the making of some futile or hideous sacrifice at the 
altar of a sick ego. 

When man knows how to live dangerously, he is not afraid to die. 
When he is not afraid to die, he is, strangely, free to live. When he 
is free to live, he can become bold, courageous, reliant. There are 
many ways to learn how to live dangerously. Men of the plains 
have had the experience in the trackless blizzards that sweep in 
from the north. Those who go out in boats from Gloucester have 
known it in another form. The mountains that traverse this country 
offer still a different way, and one that for many is the most exciting 
of all. The mountains can be reached in all seasons. They offer a 
fighting challenge to heart, soul, and mind, both in summer and 
winter. If throughout time the youth of the nation accept the 
challenge the mountains offer, they will help keep alive in our 
people the spirit of adventure. That spirit is a measure of the vitality 
of both nations and men. A people who climb the ridges and sleep 
under the stars in high mountain meadows, who enter the forest 
and scale the peaks, who explore glaciers and walk ridges buried deep 
in snow these people will give their country some of the indomitable 
spirit of the mountains. 

A light wind came up from the northwest. The sun slipped behind 
the jaggedness of Hogback Mountain far to the west. I started down 


Kloochman so as to have the treacherous ledges behind and above 
me before darkness. I had not gone far when the evening star ap 
peared. By the time I cleared the brush below the rock fields, this 
would be my only sure guide to the road where I had left my car. 

I stood in the silence of the gathering night, charting my course 
by it. Then the words my father had spoken came back: "If I die it 
will be glory. If I live, it will be grace/ 

That was his evening star a faith in a power greater than man. 
That was the faith of our fathers a belief in a God who controlled 
man and the universe. It manifested itself in different ways to 
different people. It was written by scholars and learned men into 
dozens of different creeds. There were sects and schisms and re 
ligious disputes. But riding high above all such secular controversies 
was the faith in One who was the Creator, the Giver of Life, the 

Man s age-long effort has been to be free. Throughout time he has 
struggled against some form of tyranny that would enslave his mind 
or his body. So far in this century three epidemics of it have been let 
loose in the world. 

We can keep our freedom through the increasing crises of history 
only if we are self-reliant enough to be free. We cannot become self- 
reliant if our dominant desire is to be safe and secure; under that 
influence we could never face and overcome the adversities of this 
competitive age. We will be self-reliant only if we have a real appetite 
for independence. 

Dollars, guns, and all the wondrous products of science and the 
machine will not be enough: "This night thy soul shall be required 
of thee." 

We need a faith the faith of our fathers. We need a faith that 
dedicates us to something bigger and more important than ourselves 
or our possessions. We need a faith to which we commit our lives. 
We need a faith for which it would be glory to die. Only if we have 
such a faith are we free to live. 

I dropped off the cliff, cleared the rocks below, and entered the 
dark woods. 


Ahtanum. A tributary of the Yakima coming in from the west; a ridge 
of hills; a town; the name of a small tribe amalgamated with the 
Yakimas. Its Indian meaning is "a stream which salmon ascend" or 
"the creek by the long mountain/ 

alpenstock. An iron-pointed staff used in mountain climbing. 

an desire. A dark-grayish rock, containing plagioclase with augite, horn 
blende, and hypersthene. 

Asror. The Astor party reached the mouth of the Columbia by ship on 
March 22, 1811 and built a settlement which they called Astoria. In 
February, 1812 the Astor overland party headed by Wilson Price Hunt 
arrived there. See Washington Irving, Astoria. 

basalt. A dark gray or black igneous rock, containing plagioclase and 
augite. See Russell, Volcanoes of North America; Mendenhall, "Shorter 
Contributions to General Geology, 1925" (U.S. Geological Survey, 
1926); "Water Supply and Irrigation Papers," H. Doc. No. 53, 57^1 
Cong., ist Session; "Water Supply and Irrigation Papers," No. 4 
(U.S. Geological Survey, 1897). 

bergschrund. The crevasse or series of crevasses at the upper end of a 
glacier, where the glacier breaks away from snow fields. 

Bitterroot Mountains. A range in Montana named for the bitterroot or 
rock rose (Lewisia rediViva) which bears the name of the senior mem 
ber of the famous expedition. The word rediviva means "that lives 
again." Roots that have lain for years in an herbarium will indeed grow 
again. The Bitterroot Valley and the Bitterroot National Forest were 
also named in its honor. 

Blue Lake. A lake in the Wallowas where the snow when compressed has 
a bluish tinge. The same is true of the moss, etc., in the lake. 

Blue Mountains. A range of mountains in eastern Oregon and eastern 
Washington that rises at its highest point over 9000 feet. It was so 
named because of its azure appearance. 

Boise. The capital of Idaho. Its name originated in 1834 by a party of 
French Canadians. They had traversed the Idaho desert where there 
was no tree for a hundred miles or so. They camped on the mesa 
overlooking the site of the city of Boise and seeing below them a 
river lined with poplars and cottonwoods they exclaimed "Vovez les 



Bonneville. Capt. Benjamin L. E. Bonneville led an expedition of over 
100 men into the Oregon territory in 1832-35. Washington Irving 
recorded it in The Adventures of Captain Bonneville. Bonneville win 
tered one year on the Salmon River, which is on the Idaho side of the 
Snake River. 

Borah, William E. He was elected to the United States Senate from 
Idaho in 1907, after being defeated for the office in 1903. 

Bridger, Jim. In 1822 he formed a fur-trapping expedition that went to 
the headwaters of the Missouri. He was in the fur business for the next 
20 years. He established a way-station, Fort Bridger, Wyoming, on the 
Oregon trail in 1843. He a ^ so serve <l f r vears in ^ e government service 
as a scout. 

Bumble. A lake in the Wallowas near Cheval and bearing the childhood 
nickname of William O. Douglas, Jr. It was so named because he 
carried eastern brook trout to it and planted them there. 

Bumping. We-not-put Wah-tum was the Indian name. The early maps 
show it as Plenham and then as Tannum. L. V. McWhorter, famous 
authority on the Yakimas, got the story of the naming of Bumping 
Lake and Bumping River from David Longmire, one of the first early 
settlers. McWhorter told it to Jack Nelson as follows: A few old-timers 
were camped on the lower reaches of the stream that flows out of the 
lake. At that point the wild and rugged surface of the river was 
startlingly perceptible as it came tumbling down from a higher plane 
than where they were standing. One of them commented on the 
broken character of the water and how it seemed to be "bumping" 

Cascades. The range that extends from Canada, through Washington 
and Oregon, and into California to the gap south of Lassen Peak. 
David Douglas was apparently the first to use the name. The Wilkes 
Expedition in 1841 charted the mountains as the Cascade Range. 

Cheval. The name of a lake in the Wallowas. It was so named as a 
result of a hilarious story Gabrielson told Lewis Carpenter of the Forest 
Service one night when they were camped there. The story concerned 
the difficulty an American doughboy had in France in talking to a 
Frenchman about a horse. 

Coast Range. A low range of hills running from Washington to California 
between the Cascades and the Pacific Ocean. 

Columbia River. It was also called the Oregon by Jonathan Carver in 
1766-67. Capt. Robert Gray called it the Columbia after his ship. He 
crossed its bar on May 11, 1792. The Indians called it Shoca-tilcurn 
(Chocka-lilum) meaning "water friend" or "friendly water." 

Cowiche. (Tquiwitass) a ridge of hills; a creek flowing into the Naches; 
the valley through which the creek runs; a town. It means "foot log 


cows. A generic term for roots of various species of Lomatium. Lewis and 
Clark first noticed them in eastern Washington on May 4, 1806. Clark 
called it "a white meley root which is very fine in soup after being dried 
and pounded." The plants of Lomatium are highly palatable to sheep 
and cattle. 

crampons. Metal clamps that are laced on shoes to increase footing on 
snow and ice. 

Cretaceous. A period of geologic time in the Mesozoic era. 

crevasse. A fissure in a glacier formed when the ice passes over irregulari 
ties in a valley or on a mountain slope so as to produce a tension on the 
upper surface of the ice, causing it to crack. 

Deschutes. A river, county, and town. Its derivation was French, "river 
of the falls/ Lewis and Clark called it "Clark s river." 

Diamond. A lake in the Wallowas so named because it was stocked with 
trout by a sheepherder of that name. 

Douglas, David. A British botanist who visited the Pacific Northwest in 
1830 and again in 1832 and 1833, making a botanical field research. 
He reached as far east as the Blue Mountains of eastern Washington 
and Oregon. Most of his field research was in the Cascades south of the 
Columbia. As a result of his research he introduced 215 plants. See 
Harvey, Douglas of the Fir. 

Eagle Cap. The peak in the center of the Wallowas, so named because 
when this range was called in early years the Eagle Mountains it was 
supposed to top all other elevations. It is 9675 feet high. 

Eocene. A subdivision of the Tertiary period and dating about 53,000,000 
years ago. 

Glacial. See Pleistocene. 

Grande Ronde. A valley in eastern Oregon and the river that drains it. 
The river is a tributary of the Imnaha. The valley and river got their 
name from the fact that the valley is a large, rounded one hemmed in 
by hills. The river was called the Welleweah by Lewis and Clark. 

granitic rode. The granitic rock of the Wallowas is quartz diorite and 
granodiorite, composed of sodic andesite, quartz, biotite, muscovite, 
augite, ilmenite, mica, hornblende, orthoclase, titanite. 

Hart Mountain. A mountain in southern Oregon. It has been variously 
spelled as Hartz, Hart, or Heart. Henry and Johnnie Wilson ran cattle 
in this region in the i88o s. Their brand was a heart. Stanley Jewett s 
research shows that the name "Heart" was thus given to the ranch and 
various points in the vicinity. Usage has changed the spelling. 

Hawiins Pass. A pass in the Wallowas named for Albert Hawkins, an 
enthusiastic mountaineer and one who deeply loved the Wallowas. He 


was on the staff of the Portland Oregonian for years and died May 8, 

Hell s Canyon. A gorge on the Snake which is the deepest on the con 
tinent 7900 feet. It begins 90 miles south of Lewiston, Idaho, and 
ends at Johnson s Bar. The drop of the Snake in Hell s Canyon is 
1254 feet per mile. See Bailey, Hell s Canyon. 

Hobo Lake. A lake in the Wallowas so named because Bob Bowman 
found an unknown hobo camped there. It is one of the highest lakes 
in the Wallowas, lying at 8300 feet. 

Hoh. The name of a river rising on Mount Olympus of the Olympic 
Range and flowing west into the Pacific. It was the name of a band 
of Quillayute Indians. 

Huckleberries. There are no true huckleberries in the Cascades or Wallo 
was. They are species of a genus (Vaccinium) of blueberries. The chief 
species are the dwarf blueberry (V. cespitosum), the big whortleberry 
(V. rnembranaceum), and the grouse whortleberry (V. scoparium). 

Idaho. From a Nez Perce word Ee-da-how meaning "light on the 

Imnaha. A river and a town. The river, a tributary of the Snake, was 

called Innahar by Lewis and Clark. Its Indian meaning was "the land 

ruled over by a chief called Imna." 

John Day. A town and river in eastern Oregon named for John Day, a 
Virginia backwoodsman, who was a member of the Astor overland 

John Henry. A lake in the Wallowas named for John Henry Wilson 
who worked a mine near by. 

Johnson, Hiram. He was elected Governor of California in 1910, ran with 
Theodore Roosevelt on the Bull Moose ticket in 1912, re-elected 
Governor in 1914, and elected to the United States Senate in 1917. 

Chief Joseph. Famous chief of the Nez Perce tribe whose ancestral home 
was the Wallowa Mountains. These Indians wintered on the Imnaha. 
The story of Chief Joseph has been told by Chester A. Fee in Chief 
Joseph: a Biography of a Great Indian (1936) and Helen A. Howard in 
War Chief Joseph (1941). 

Kautz Glacier. A glacier on Mount Rainier named for Lt. X. V. Kautz 
who tried to climb Rainier in 1857, who lost his hat and 14 pounds of 
weight in the process, and did not recover for many weeks. 

Icing salmon or chinook salmon is the most prized of Pacific Coast 

Kittitas. The valley north of Yakima, a county, and a town. Its Indian 
meaning was "place of white chalk" or "clay gravel valley/ 


Klickitat. The name of an Indian tribe, the Indian name for a mountain 
(Mount Adams), a river which flows into the Columbia, a county, 
glacier, and pass. Its Indian meaning is "galloping horse" or sometimes 

La Grande. A leading city of eastern Oregon located in the famous 
Grande Ronde Valley. 

Lapover. The name of Roy Schaeffer s place on the Lostine River. It was 
so named when Bob Bowman owned the property. He had working 
for him a chap who came from a town in Arkansas that lapped over 
into Texas. The man talked about the lapover so much that Bob 
Bowman decided it should be the name of the man s new home in the 
Wallowas. Cf. McArthur, Oregon Geographic Names. There is also a 
Lapover Lake in the Wallowas. 

Lewis and Clark. This expedition, promoted by Thomas Jefferson and 
authorized by Congress, was headed by Capt. Meriwether Lewis and 
Capt. William Clark. There were 45 in the party that left St. Louis on 
May 14, 1804. They reached the mouth of the Columbia River on 
November 18, 1805, where they wintered. They started east on March 
23, 1806 and reached St. Louis September 23, 1806. Only one man 
died on the trip and he in the early stages of it. They described in their 
journals around 500 biological specimens which were almost equally 
divided between the botanical and the zoological. They found many 
new species in each group, some of whom were named after them. The 
story of the expedition has been told in prose that is close to poetry 
by Peattie in Forward the Nation. Their discoveries are carefully 
catalogued by Criswell in Lewis and Clark: Linguistic Pioneers. And 
see Coues, Lewis and Clark Expedition, particularly Vol. 3. 

Lewis Lake. The pleistocene lake that lay on the Great Plain of the Co 
lumbia. It was named by Lt. T. W. Symons for Capt. Meriwether Lewis. 

lichen. "Find a symbiosis in which the partners have become indeed 
united, indissoluble, two organisms made one flesh having a form and a 
life history peculiar to their combined self, and you have come upon 
the creation of life in a new biologic dimension. You have come to the 
lichens. Those minutely forested maps painted upon the boulders in 
my cactus garden, those waving beards that hang upon the live-oaks 
in the valley ranges, are dual plants; half of any lichen is an alga, com 
monly a Blue-Green such as one sees living free on the north side of 
trees in a wet wood, occasionally a true Green, rarely and astonishingly 
a Red. The other partner is a fungus, usually one of the cup fungi; 
hence the tiny colored elf-cups so common in the fruiting of a lichen. 
. . . The alga, in the lichen form, does the green business, the photo 
synthesis; the fungus provides capital of water, preventing the other 
from drying out." Peattie, Flowering Earth. 


Lostine. A river and a town. It was named by an early settler for Lostine, 

Malheur. A river, lake, and county in Oregon. The river sometimes dis 
appears underground into huge rock caverns. In one of these caverns, 
French trappers of the Hudson Bay Company once hid their supplies. 
Peter Skene Ogden wrote in his Journals that the river was called 
* unfortunate" because of "goods and furs, hid here, discovered and 
stolen by the natives." 

Matterhorn. A rugged peak in the Wallowas which was named after the 
one in the Swiss Alps. It is 10,004 feet high. 

Minam. A town, lake, river, and meadow. The river flows into the 
Wallowa at the town which is shortly above where the Wallowa flows 
into the Grande Ronde. It derived from an Indian word E-mi-ne-wah 
meaning a valley where a plant that the Indians used for food grew. 

Miocene. A subdivision of the Tertiary period and dating about 
33,000,000 years ago. 

Moraine. A rock debris carried by glacial ice. When it gathers on the 
sides of the glacier, it is called a lateral moraine. When it gathers at 
the bottom of the glacier, it is called a terminal moraine. 

Naches. A river flowing into the Yakima from the west; the name of a 
town located on that river; a pass over the Cascades; and a gap. In 
Indian language it means "one water" or "good or pure water" or "a 
big flow of water." 

Nelson pack. The frame is principally composed of two parallel pieces of 
wood that run lengthwise of the body and is covered with canvas form 
ing a large pocket. 

Norwegian pack. An oblong-shaped pack on a light metal frame so 
designed as to place the weight just above the hips. 

pack basket. A strong. reed basket with shoulder straps. 

parasitic cones. Volcanoes that develop on the sides of older volcanoes. 

Pasco. A town in Washington on the Columbia near the mouth of the 

Snake. Its meaning is probably "flattest and hottest place." 
Pendleton. A town in Oregon, famous for for its annual Round-up. It was 

named for George Hunt Pendleton, democratic candidate for President 

in 1864. 
Pinchot, Gifford. Chief of the Forest Service 1898 to 1910; Governor of 

Pennsylvania 1923 to 1927 and from 1931 to 1935. 
Pleistocene. This is the glacial period of geologic time, dating back about 

1,700,000 years. 
Pliocene. A subdivision of the Tertiary period and dating about 15,000,- 

ooo years ago. 


Prosser. A town in the Lower Yakima Valley named for William F 
Prosser, an early homesteader. 

pyroclastic rock. This is rock that has been broken up by volcanic 
processes. It may be a molten lava or rock that has been hurled from 
volcanoes. The latter includes dustlike particles known as volcanic ash, 
coarser fragments called cinders, and rounded fragments called volcanic 

Quillayute. A river rising in the Olympic Range and flowing west into 

the Pacific. It was the name of an Indian tribe. 
Quinault. A river rising in the Olympic Range and flowing west into the 

Pacific. It was the name of an Indian tribe. 

rosin. The sap of conifers, which becomes firm and brittle after long 

exposure to the air. 

rucksack. A light, canvas bag with shoulder straps and outside pockets, 
run. A path or trail made by deer, elk, antelope, or goats. 

Saca/awea. A peak in the Wallowas named after the famous woman of the 
Shoshones who was a guide to Lewis and Clark. It is 10,033 ^ eet high. 

Selah. A valley to the northwest of Yakima; also the gap to the north of 
the town of Yakima. Its Indian meaning was "still water 7 or "smooth 
water" or "water that moves slowly." 

seracs. Blocks into which a glacier breaks on steep slopes. 

Siskiyou Mountains. They are part of the Klamath Mountains that lie 
between the Coast Range and the Cascades in southwestern Oregon 
and northwestern California. Its Indian meaning was "a bob-tailed 
horse." The range took its name from the loss of a bob-tailed horse there 
in 1828 by an officer of the Hudson Bay Company during a snowstorm. 

Snake. A winding, serpentine river that rises in Wyoming and flows into 
the Columbia near Pasco, Washington. It was called by early Canadian 
voyageurs the accursed, mad river. It was called Lewis River by Lewis 
and Clark. It was named after the Snake Indians (Shoshones). 

snowbrush (Ceanothus velurinus). Discovered and named botanically by 
David Douglas (the eponym of the Pacific Northwest s most important 
tree, the Douglas fir) on high hills near the headwaters of the Colum 
bia in what is now Stevens County, Washington. Douglas introduced 
it into the British Isles. It s a large genus, McMinn having classified 
55 species. It is not a conserver of water. Copeland has shown that at 
an altitude of a mile in the Sierra it gives off water at a rate representing 
a loss of two feet per unit of leaf area during the active season. 

Steamboat. A lake in the Wallowas, so named because a small island in 
the lake is shaped like a steamboat. 


Steens Mountain. This mountain in southeast Oregon was named for 
Major Enoch Steens who drove a band of Snake Indians over it in 1860. 

Tertiary: A period of geologic time in the Cenozoic era. It was in the 

age of mammals and embraces the Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, and 

Tieton. A river that is a tributary of the Naches; a town, basin, peak, and 

storage dam and reservoir. Its Indian meaning was "little river" or 

"milky water." 
Tombstone. A lake in the Wallowas so named because a granite shaft 

stands at one end of it. See McArthur, Oregon Geographic Names. 
Toppenish. A town in the Lower Yakima Valley; an Indian agency. Its 

Indian meaning was people of the trail coming from the foot of the 

hill or land coming down or sloping. 

Umatilla. An Indian tribe; a town in Oregon; a river. In Indian language 
it meant "gathering of the sand." It is also said to mean "lots of rocks." 
In the Lewis and Clark Journals it is spelled Youmalolam. 

Union Gap. The gap to the south of the town of Yakima; a town. In 
Indian language it is Pahotecute meaning "putting two heads together." 

Volcanic Ash. See Pyroclastic Rock. 

Waiilatpu. The site of the mission established by Marcus Whitman. It is 
near Walla Walla, Washington. Its Indian meaning was "the place of 
rye grass." 

Walla Walla. The name of an Indian tribe; a river; a valley; a city in 
Washington. In Indian language Walla meant "running water." Repeti 
tion of a word diminutized it. So Walla Walla meant "a small rapid 
river." The "Wallah-Wallah" Indians were the kindliest that Lewis 
and Clark met on their expedition. 

Wallowa. A county, town, and river. Its Indian meaning was "fish trap." 

Wallowa Mountains. These mountains lie in the northeast corner of 
Oregon close to the Idaho and Washington lines. They are roughly in 
the form of a wagon wheel, Eagle Cap being the hub and the various 
ridges running to it as spokes. They are often referred to as the Blue 
Mountains but are in fact separate from them. 

Wapato. A town in the Lower Yakima Valley, an irrigation project, a 
diversion dam, and canal. Its Indian meaning was "potato," a tuber the 
size of a small egg. The Indians would often roast it in coals and, as 
Lewis and Clark noted, eat it skin and all. Ben Hur Lampman in The 
Coming of the Pond Fishes gives the best account of it. The ponds of 
the Pacific Northwest used to contain "great water gardens of Wapato" 
with their arrow-shaped leaves. But the carp, which were introduced into 
the west side ponds, have grubbed most of it out and there is little left 


now. The Indian squaws gathered the Wapato by wading in the water 
and loosening the tubers with their feet. The tubers, when loosened, 
floated to the surface. The squaws kept a canoe alongside into which 
they placed the tubers. Lampman says that "when boiled, the tuber 
is starchy and palatable, having a flavor somewhat like that of green 

Wenas. A town, a valley, a tributary of the Yakima flowing in from the 
northwest. Its Indian meaning was "coming in" or "last camping." The 
creek was first charted by Capt. George B. McClellan in 1853. 

Whitman, Marcus. A medical missionary from New York who with his 
wife, Narcissa Prentiss, founded in 1836 a mission at Waiilatpu in the 
Walla Walla Valley. They were murdered by Cayuse Indians in 1847. 

Wilson Basin. A meadow in the Wallowas named for John Henry Wilson 
who worked a mine on its eastern edge. 

Yalcima. The name of a valley, river, peak, city, county in Washington, 

and an Indian tribe. 

In the early chronicles the name was sometimes spelled Yookooman, 
Eyakama, Yacamah, or Yakama. There is uncertainty as to the meaning of 
the name. It has been translated as lake water, black bear, people of the 
narrow river, runaway, big belly, growing family, tribe expansion. The last 
two were endorsed by L. V. McWhorter, adopted member of the tribe 
and their doughty champion through the years. His translation signifies 
that the Yakimas were a loose confederation of many tribes, or perhaps 
more accurately, the product of many mergers. 

But Professor Lyman in his History of the YaJcima Valley suggests that 
the word is derived from Neaneeya-keema which means "we meet and 
part" or "neutrality." The origin of the word, he suggests, was the result 
of a meeting at Union Gap of the Spokanes, a neighboring tribe to the 
east, and the Yakimas. The Yakima River was called the Tapetett or 
Tapteel when Lewis and Clark came through the Columbia River basin 
in 1805. And Professor Lyman suggests that that was the original name 
of the tribe, the word Yakima being of fairly recent origin, though in use 
when the first settlers arrived. 

The first white men to see the Yakimas were Lewis and Clark in 1805. 
They met the branch of the Yakimas called the Chimnapum who lived 
near the mouth of the river. Their Journals relate that those Indians "live 
in a State of comparitive happiness"; the men take a greater share of the 
work burden of the squaws than is common among Indians and are 
"content with one wife." They also "respect the aged with veneration." 
Lewis and Clark described their lodges: They were 15 to 60 feet in length 
supported by six-foot poles and covered with large mats made of rushes. 
At the top of the walls are spaces 12 to 15 inches wide left for admission 
of light and the escape of smoke from the fires that are built in the middle 
of the house. Clark noted that the roofs "are nearly flat, which proves to 
me that rains are not common in the open Countrey."